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People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes

CRSP Working Paper No. 542

70 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2002  

Luigi Guiso

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF)

Paola Sapienza

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Luigi Zingales

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2002

Abstract

Since Max Weber, there has been an active debate on the impact of religion on people's economic attitudes. Much of the existing evidence, however, is based on cross-country studies in which this impact is confounded by differences in other institutional factors. We use the World Values Surveys to identify the relationship between intensity of religious beliefs and economic attitudes, controlling for country fixed effects. We study several economic attitudes toward cooperation, the government, working women, legal rules, thriftiness, and the market economy. We also distinguish across religious denominations, differentiating on whether a religion is dominant in a country. We find that on average, religious beliefs are associated with "good" economic attitudes, where "good" is defined as conducive to higher per capita income and growth. Yet religious people tend to be more racist and less favorable with respect to working women. These effects differ across religious denominations. Overall, we find that Christian religions are more positively associated with attitudes conducive to economic growth.

Keywords: Religion, institutions, preferences, economic growth

JEL Classification: A1, E0, N4, Z1

Suggested Citation

Guiso, Luigi and Sapienza, Paola and Zingales, Luigi, People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes (August 2002). CRSP Working Paper No. 542. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=331280 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.331280

Luigi Guiso

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) ( email )

Via Sallustiana 62
Rome, 00187
Italy
+39 06 4792 4858 (Phone)
+39 06 4792 4872 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.eief.it/faculty-visitors/faculty-a-z/luigi-guiso/

Paola Sapienza

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management - Department of Finance ( email )

Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-7436 (Phone)
847-491-5719 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Luigi Zingales (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-3196 (Phone)
773-834-2081 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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