On the Origin of Religious Values: Does Italian Weather Affect Values in Bolivia

38 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2017 Last revised: 22 Oct 2021

See all articles by Lewis Davis

Lewis Davis

Union College - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 5, 2020


In this paper I advance and empirically support the indigenous religious values hypothesis, which holds that religions espouse the values indigenous to the countries in which they develop. To identify the indigenous values of a religion’s homeland, I rely on the negative relationship between individualism and rainfall variation. I find strong empirical support for the hypothesis that contemporary individualism depends on rainfall variation in the homelands of religions to which a country’s population adheres. Indeed, this relationship explains over a quarter of the international variation in individualism. This effect is robust to controls for the role of religion in institutional and technological transfers and the confluence of conversion and colonization. In keeping with the explicitly religious nature of the mechanism proposed here, I also find that rainfall variation in religion homelands plays a greater role in explaining the values of countries with greater religious freedom and the values of individuals who are more religious or members of religious minorities.

Keywords: Religion, Religious Functionalism, Individualism, Climate, Rainfall, Culture, Values

JEL Classification: Z12, F54, Q54

Suggested Citation

Davis, Lewis S., On the Origin of Religious Values: Does Italian Weather Affect Values in Bolivia (October 5, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2991191 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2991191

Lewis S. Davis (Contact Author)

Union College - Department of Economics ( email )

Schenectady, NY 12308-3107
United States

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