Do Physiological and Spiritual Factors Affect Economic Decisions?
53 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2017 Last revised: 15 Apr 2019
Date Written: April 2019
We examine the effects of nutrition and spiritual sentiment on economic decision-making in the context of Ramadan, an entire lunar month of daily fasting from dawn to sunset and increased spiritual reflection in the Muslim faith. Using an administrative data set of all bank loans originated in Turkey during 2003-2013, we find that small business loans originated during Ramadan are about 10 to 15 percent more likely to become delinquent within two years of origination than loans originated outside of Ramadan. Despite their worse performance, Ramadan loans have lower credit spreads than non-Ramadan loans at origination. Consistent with Ramadan-induced judgment errors committed by individual loan officers, we find no relation between origination in Ramadan and the performance of personal loans which are mostly automated, and large business loans where approval decisions are made by credit committees. Loans granted by banks whose loan officers are more likely to observe the Ramadan perform worse, and so do loans originated on hot Ramadan days when adverse physiological effects of fasting are greatest, and loans that resemble charitable lending involving financially strong lenders. Our identification strategy addresses alternative explanations including seasonality and changing borrower and loan characteristics during Ramadan.
Keywords: Ramadan; fasting; nutrition; spiritual sentiment; judgment errors; bank lending; religion; religious practice
JEL Classification: G02; G21; Z12
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