Over at TMP Cafe there is a discussiona bout Red State, Blue State. This post has an interesting snippet:
…But before we grab on to such a U.S.-centric explanation, it is worth noting that John Huber and Piero Stanig have compiled data showing that poor religious voters in Europe are more likely than low-income secular voters to support parties promoting economically liberal policies (in the European sense of the term). So any explanation of the phenomenon ought to have a passport.
Recently there has been a lot of theorizing among political scientists and economists as to why religious belief or practice might systematically lead to greater support for the economic agenda of the Right.
In an important study, Ken Scheve and David Stasavage show that religiosity is associated with lower levels of social spending on a cross-national basis and that religious voters are consistently less like to support social spending than the non-religious across advanced democracies. Their explanation for these findings holds that religiosity directly affects preferences for social insurance. Drawing on literature in psychology, Scheve and Stasavage argue that religiosity reduces the “psychic costs” that the experience of economic shocks such as unemployment or illness entails. Because religious belief serves as a substitute to social insurance, it reduces the demand for social spending.
Similarly, Roland Benabou and Jean Tirole argue that religious beliefs tying rewards in the after-life to industriousness on Earth induce lower support for redistribution. In their model, religious voters oppose redistribution because non-believers also benefit and because it dulls their own incentives to work hard.
Religious adherence may not only have a psychological or normative affect on redistributive preferences. Huber and Stanig argue that religious organizations provide direct material substitutes for state provided redistribution and social insurance.
A good friend of mine (who is far Left for what it’s worth) believes that the arrow of causality can also work so that socialist policies result in a diminishing of the public role of religious institutions by substituting for the functional roles that they play.