Belief in Heaven, Hell Alters Crime Rates Believers in heaven more likely to be unlawful: study By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff Posted Jun 25, 2012 7:08 PM CDT 96 comments Comments Believers in hell are less likely to commit crimes, study says. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – If God is going to let you off easy, why not commit the crime? That sums up the findings of a study by two US professors who say that countries with a belief in hell have lower crime rates than those with a greater belief in heaven, the Daily Mail reports. The researchers looked for mentions of heaven, hell, and God in surveys of more than 143,000 participants in 67 countries between 1981 and 2007. "I think it's an important clue about the differential effects of supernatural punishment and supernatural benevolence," said Azim Shariff of the University of Oregon. Last year, he wrote an article saying that undergrads who believed in a forgiving God were more likely to cheat than those who believed in a punishing God. "There is less of a divine deterrent," he said. In 2003, Harvard researchers found that developed countries performed better economically if the population believed more in hell than in heaven.