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Religious Identity and Economic Behavior

33 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2010  

Daniel J. Benjamin

USC, Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

James J. Choi

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Geoffrey Fisher

California Institute of Technology

Date Written: April 2010

Abstract

We randomly vary religious identity salience in laboratory subjects to test how identity salience contributes to six hypothesized links from prior literature between religious identity and economic behavior. We find that religious identity salience makes Protestants increase contributions to public goods. Catholics decrease contributions to public goods, expect others to contribute less to public goods, and become less risk averse. Jews more strongly reciprocate as an employee in a bilateral labor market gift-exchange game. We find no evidence of religious identity salience effects on disutility of work effort, discount rates, or generosity in a dictator game.

Suggested Citation

Benjamin, Daniel J. and Choi, James J. and Fisher, Geoffrey, Religious Identity and Economic Behavior (April 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15925. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1594559

Daniel J. Benjamin (Contact Author)

USC, Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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James J. Choi

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Geoffrey Fisher

California Institute of Technology ( email )

Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

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