The Religious Observance of Ramadan and Prosocial Behavior

12 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2017

See all articles by Ernan Haruvy

Ernan Haruvy

University of Texas at Dallas - Naveen Jindal School of Management

Christos A. Ioannou

Centre d’Économie de la Sorbonne, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Farnoush Golshirazi

University of Oxford

Date Written: January 2018

Abstract

We investigate experimentally the impact on prosocial behavior of the religious observance of Ramadan. Our sample consists of male factory workers in a manufacturing facility in a Muslim country. In our between‐subjects' design, each worker is asked to allocate an amount of money between himself and a stranger. Specifically, we examine behavior of observants and nonobservants before and after the daily break of the Ramadan fast. We also examine behavior outside of Ramadan, where we treat alimentary abstention as akin to a long fasting period. We hypothesize and confirm that outside Ramadan, decision makers who abstain from any alimentary intake transfer less money to recipients relative to decision makers who do not abstain. Strikingly, this effect is reversed during the month of Ramadan. Specifically, observant workers who are in the midst of their Ramadan fast are far more generous to recipients than workers who have had their evening meal. Interestingly, observant and nonobservant workers after the daily break of the Ramadan fast and workers outside Ramadan that consumed aliments make statistically similar transfers. Our findings suggest that it is the interaction between alimentary abstention and religious observance that amplifies prosocial behavior during Ramadan, where fasting is part of the ritual.

JEL Classification: C91, C93, C72

Suggested Citation

Haruvy, Ernan and Ioannou, Christos A. and Golshirazi, Farnoush, The Religious Observance of Ramadan and Prosocial Behavior (January 2018). Economic Inquiry, Vol. 56, Issue 1, pp. 226-237, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3079064 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecin.12480

Ernan Haruvy (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Dallas - Naveen Jindal School of Management ( email )

P.O. Box 830688
Richardson, TX 75083-0688
United States

Christos A. Ioannou

Centre d’Économie de la Sorbonne, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne ( email )

Paris
France

Farnoush Golshirazi

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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