Religious Festivals and Economic Development: Evidence from the Timing of Mexican Saint Day Festivals

86 Pages Posted: 24 May 2021 Last revised: 2 Apr 2023

See all articles by Eduardo Montero

Eduardo Montero

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Dean Yang

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 2021

Abstract

Does variation in how religious festivals are celebrated have economic consequences? We study the economic impacts of the timing of Catholic patron saint day festivals in Mexico. For causal identification, we exploit cross-locality variation in festival dates and in the timing of agricultural seasons. We estimate the impact of “agriculturally-coinciding” festivals (those coinciding with peak planting or harvest months) on long-run economic development of localities. Agriculturally-coinciding festivals lead to lower household income and worse development outcomes overall. These negative effects are likely due to lower agricultural productivity, which inhibits structural transformation out of agriculture. Agriculturally-coinciding festivals may nonetheless persist because they also lead to higher religiosity and social capital.

Suggested Citation

Montero, Eduardo and Yang, Dean and Yang, Dean, Religious Festivals and Economic Development: Evidence from the Timing of Mexican Saint Day Festivals (May 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w28821, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3851824

Eduardo Montero (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

Dean Yang

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy ( email )

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