Does Church Attendance Cause People to Vote? Using Blue Laws' Repeal to Estimate the Effect of Religiosity on Voter Turnout

27 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2008 Last revised: 1 Aug 2022

See all articles by Alan Gerber

Alan Gerber

Yale University - Department of Political Science; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Jonathan Gruber

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Daniel M. Hungerman

University of Notre Dame

Date Written: September 2008

Abstract

Regular church attendance is strongly associated with a higher probability of voting. It is an open question as to whether this association, which has been confirmed in numerous surveys, is causal. We use the repeal of the laws restricting Sunday retail activity ("Blue laws") to measure the effects of church-going on political participation. The repeal of Blue Laws caused a 5 percent decrease in church attendance. We measure the effect of Blue Laws' repeal on political participation and find that following the repeal turnout falls by approximately 1 percentage point. This turnout decline, which is statistically significant and fairly robust across model specifications, is consistent with the large effect of church attendance on turnout reported in the literature, and suggests that church attendance may have significant causal influence on voter turnout.

Suggested Citation

Gerber, Alan and Gruber, Jonathan and Hungerman, Daniel M., Does Church Attendance Cause People to Vote? Using Blue Laws' Repeal to Estimate the Effect of Religiosity on Voter Turnout (September 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14303, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1264566

Alan Gerber

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
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203-432-5232 (Phone)

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Jonathan Gruber (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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United States
617-253-8892 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://web.mit.edu/gruberj/www/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Daniel M. Hungerman

University of Notre Dame ( email )

361 Mendoza College of Business
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5646
United States

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