Is Hanukkah Responsive to Christmas?

Posted: 18 Aug 2008 Last revised: 18 Nov 2009

See all articles by Ran Abramitzky

Ran Abramitzky

Stanford University - Department of Economics

Liran Einav

Stanford University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Oren Rigbi

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 1, 2008

Abstract

We study the extent to which religious activity responds to the presence and activity of other religions. Specifically, we employ individual-level survey data and county-level expenditure data to examine the extent to which Hanukkah celebration among U.S. Jews is driven by the presence of Christmas. We find that: (1) Jews with children at home are more likely to celebrate Hanukkah than Jews without children. (2) The effect of having children on Hanukkah celebrations is higher for reform Jews than for orthodox Jews; and, it is higher for Jews who feel a stronger sense of belonging to Judaism. In contrast, there is no such differential effect of having children on the celebration of other Jewish holidays. (3) Jewish-related expenditures in Hanukkah are higher in counties with lower share of Jews. These findings are all consistent with the hypothesis that Jews increase religious activity during Hanukkah because of the presence of Christmas, and that this response is primarily driven by the presence of children at home. One underlying mechanism that could lead to this is that Jewish parents in the U.S. celebrate Hanukkah more intensively so their children do not feel left out, and/or because they are concerned that their children will convert or intermarry.

Keywords: Religious, Hanukkah, Identity

JEL Classification: J15, Z12

Suggested Citation

Abramitzky, Ran and Einav, Liran and Rigbi, Oren, Is Hanukkah Responsive to Christmas? (March 1, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1233862

Ran Abramitzky (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Liran Einav

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
650-723-3704 (Phone)
928-223-4973 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Oren Rigbi

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ( email )

1 Ben-Gurion Blvd
Beer-Sheba 84105, 84105
Israel

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