Socioeconomic value of religion and the impacts of ideological change in China
Ideology is a primary factor that influences socioeconomic development and social stability, particularly in rapidly changing developing countries such as China. To understand the socioeconomic value of ideology during China's recent history, and the impacts of ideological change, I evaluated the potential links with socioeconomic development by presenting a historical perspective on the changing Chinese ideology. Since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, China has followed a bumpy road created by the contradiction between official government atheism, the lack of an ideology with a strong ethical grounding, and the desire of many people to believe in a higher power (i.e., a divinity). This contradiction may have increased social transaction costs, decreased social stability and economic efficiency, and damaged environmental conservation. Although China has experienced an extraordinary economic boom in the past three decades, the socioeconomic system may be more fragile than is commonly believed because it has been undermined by this ideological confusion. To promote sustainable socioeconomic development, China's government, scientists, and citizens should seek a new ideology that accommodates the desire for more religious freedom by promoting prosocial institutional reform.
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