The paper aims to identify the form and significance of the influence of Buddhism upon the nature of past and future national economic change. It is divided to address two major tasks. The first section analyses the world view and behavioural prescriptions of Buddhism and examines their compatibility with the requirements commonly presumed for economic development. This analysis suggests that, contrary to conventional views, Buddhism has many positive features consistent with processes and change leading to growth in economic welfare (especially under the modern ecologically sustainable development framework). The second section consists of an empirical analysis of comparative social, economic and environmental indicators across nations where Buddhism is likely to have had a substantial influence. Although few regularities are identified across the entire group of nations, some internal similarities are noted together with discussion of the importance of historical factors and development potentiality linked to the influence of Buddhism. The analysis provides a useful overview of relative conditions and trends in Buddhist‐influenced nations on a diverse range of social, economic and environmental indicators.
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