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A Theory of Liberal Churches

Michael D. Makowsky

Clemson University - John E. Walker Department of Economics

February 23, 2010

There is a counterintuitive gap in the club theory of religion. While it elegantly accounts for the notable success of strict sectarian religious groups in recruiting members and maintaining commitment, it exhibits less satisfactory properties when used to account for groups requiring neither extreme nor zero sacrifice. Such corner solutions, compared to the moderate middle, are rarely observed empirically. Within the original representative agent model, moderate groups are everywhere and always a suboptimal choice for rational, utility maximizing agents. In this paper, we extend the original model to operate within a multi-agent computational context, with heterogeneous agents occupying coordinates in a two dimensional lattice, making repeated decisions over time. Our model offers the possibility of successful moderate groups, including outcomes wherein the population is dominated by moderate groups. The viability of moderate groups is a result of heterogeneous agent wages. Lower wage agents offer greater time contributions, but lesser financial contributions to groups. Higher sacrifice rates incentive greater contributions from members, but reduce private productivity and screen out other potential members with greater financial resources. Moderate groups succeed by offering an optimal balance of these countervailing forces.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

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Date posted: February 26, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Makowsky, Michael D., A Theory of Liberal Churches (February 23, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1558202 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1558202

Contact Information

Michael D. Makowsky (Contact Author)
Clemson University - John E. Walker Department of Economics ( email )
Clemson, SC 29634
United States
HOME PAGE: http://michaelmakowsky.com
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