Selecting (In) and Crowding Out: Experimental Evidence of the Power of Religious Authority in Afghanistan
53 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2015
Date Written: July 24, 2015
We unpack the psychological influence of a Muslim cleric’s power over the poor in an experiment in Afghanistan. The same cleric requests contributions for a hospital from day-laborers when dressed as a civilian and as a cleric. In Civilian condition, 50% contribute and 17% make large contributions; in Cleric condition, 83% contribute but large contributions fall. Through counterfactual simulations, we find that the clerical garb compels unmotivated subjects to contribute (selection), but causes those who initially were generous to reduce their contribution (crowding out). The backlash is present only among those with formal education but is counteracted when the cleric adds a recitation of Qur’anic verses. Overall, this suggests that education mediates whether people automatically associate religious authorities with the omnipresent.
Keywords: charitable giving, crowding out, prosocial behavior, religion, control, authority
JEL Classification: D03, C93, L3, Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation