In a recent New York Times column, Tyler Cowen described three current trends in America that have led to a shrinking middle class and a growing income inequality: foreign competition, technological changes that favor highly skilled workers, and persistent poverty.
He also shares ways these trends can be combatted or reversed. For his final point, Cowen asserts that the best way to fight persistent poverty is through strong moral values often found in religion, and he cites Latter-day Saints as an example:
"Religions and social movements with strong moral codes may be able to help improve life prospects. It is striking, for example, that Utah fits the economic profile of an older, more middle-class-oriented America. The reasons for this are complex, but they may stem in part from the large number of Mormons in the state.
"Mormons have done relatively well in economic terms, perhaps, at least in part, because their religious culture encourages behavior consistent with prosperity, such as savings, mutual assistance, family values and no drug and alcohol abuse.
"I am not a Mormon and am not advocating that religion or any other. But it seems reasonable to observe that changing social norms, sometimes associated with religion, can help improve living standards."
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