Religiosity and Long-Run Productivity Growth

39 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2016

See all articles by Dierk Herzer

Dierk Herzer

Helmut-Schmidt-University Hamburg

Holger Strulik

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) - School of Law, Economics, Social Sciences

Date Written: June 24, 2016


In this paper, we show, using a panel of developed countries, that there is a long-run negative association between church attendance and total factor productivity (TFP) with predictive causality running from declining church attendance to increasing factor productivity. According to our preferred estimate, about 18% of the increase in TFP from 1950 to 1990 is caused by declining religiosity. In order to explain this phenomenon, we integrate into standard R&D-based growth theory a micro-foundation of individual cognitive style, which is either intuitive-believing or reflective-analytical. Under the assumption that R&D productivity is positively influenced by a reflective-analytical cognitive style, we find that secularization leads to an increasing labor share in R&D and gradually increasing productivity growth. We use these insights to reflect on trends in religiosity and R&D-based growth in the very long run, from Enlightenment to the present day.

Keywords: religiosity, church attendance, factor productivity, cognitive style, R&D based growth

JEL Classification: N30, O11, C23

Suggested Citation

Herzer, Dierk and Strulik, Holger, Religiosity and Long-Run Productivity Growth (June 24, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Dierk Herzer

Helmut-Schmidt-University Hamburg ( email )


Holger Strulik (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) - School of Law, Economics, Social Sciences ( email )


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