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Religion, Income Inequality, and the Size of the Government

33 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2010 Last revised: 8 Mar 2013

Ceyhun Elgin

Boğaziçi University

Mehmet Y. Gurdal

TOBB University of Economics and Technology

Turkmen Goksel

Ankara University - Department of Economics

Cuneyt Orman

Drury University

Date Written: September 17, 2010

Abstract

Recent empirical research has demonstrated that countries with higher levels of religiosity are characterized by greater income inequality. We argue that this is due to the lower level of government services demanded in more religious countries. Religion requires that individuals make financial sacrifices and this leads the religious to prefer making their contributions voluntarily rather than through mandatory means. To the extent that citizen preferences are reflected in policy outcomes, religiosity results in lower taxes, which in turn implies lower levels of spending on both public goods and redistribution. Since measures of income typically do not fully take into account the part of income coming from donations received, this increases measured income inequality. We formalize these ideas in a general equilibrium political economy model and also show that the implications of our model are supported by cross-country data.

Keywords: Religion, Voluntary Donations, Taxation, Redistribution, Income Inequality

JEL Classification: D63, H20, Z12

Suggested Citation

Elgin, Ceyhun and Gurdal, Mehmet Y. and Goksel, Turkmen and Orman, Cuneyt, Religion, Income Inequality, and the Size of the Government (September 17, 2010). Economic Modelling, Vol. 30, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1679283 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1679283

Ceyhun Elgin

Boğaziçi University ( email )

Bebek, İstanbul 34342
Turkey

Mehmet Y. Gurdal

TOBB University of Economics and Technology ( email )

Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences
Söğütözü Cad. 43,
Ankara, Cankaya
Turkey

Turkmen Goksel

Ankara University - Department of Economics ( email )

TR-06590 Cebeci
Ankara
Turkey

Cuneyt Orman (Contact Author)

Drury University ( email )

900 N. Benton Ave.
Springfield, MO 65802
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/cuneytorman/

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