Religion and attainment are clearly linked.
This paper provides a synthetic model that includes religion as both a background and a mediating component to explain its relationship with outcomes like income and wealth.
Religion is an important determinant of social and economic attainment, but the mechanisms that underlie this relationship are not well understood. Early scholars recognized this connection, but their ideas do not adequately explain contemporary stratification patterns. Recent research documents robust empirical relationships between religion and material outcomes but has not yet begun to identify causes of these patterns. I fill this gap by providing a comprehensive, contemporary, theoretical explanation of the religion-inequality link that synthesizes ideas from early and more recent research. I draw on ideas from status attainment and life course research to develop a synthetic model that includes religion as both a background and a mediating component. I conclude by providing examples of implications of the model. These ideas improve understanding of the critical relationship between cultural orientation and material resources.