People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes
Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF)
Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); University of Chicago - Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
CRSP Working Paper No. 542
Since Max Weber, there has been an active debate on the impact of religion on people's economic attitudes. Much of the existing evidence, however, is based on cross-country studies in which this impact is confounded by differences in other institutional factors. We use the World Values Surveys to identify the relationship between intensity of religious beliefs and economic attitudes, controlling for country fixed effects. We study several economic attitudes toward cooperation, the government, working women, legal rules, thriftiness, and the market economy. We also distinguish across religious denominations, differentiating on whether a religion is dominant in a country. We find that on average, religious beliefs are associated with "good" economic attitudes, where "good" is defined as conducive to higher per capita income and growth. Yet religious people tend to be more racist and less favorable with respect to working women. These effects differ across religious denominations. Overall, we find that Christian religions are more positively associated with attitudes conducive to economic growth.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 70
Keywords: Religion, institutions, preferences, economic growth
JEL Classification: A1, E0, N4, Z1
Date posted: November 19, 2002
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