Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself: Community Formation and the Church

39 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2006 Last revised: 8 Feb 2010

See all articles by Thomas DeLeire

Thomas DeLeire

Georgetown University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Thomas D. Jeitschko

Michigan State University - Department of Economics

Seamus O'Connell

Maynooth College - Faculty of Theology

Rowena Pecchenino

NUI Maynooth - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 2, 2006

Abstract

The church has played a central role in establishing and maintaining, as well as undermining, communities throughout history. We explore mechanisms through which it coordinates individual behaviors to achieve improvements in welfare, and reveal ways in which it can fail, causing communities to founder. In our model, inherently religious individuals may become trapped in a secular equilibrium that is strictly dominated by a religious equilibrium. The church, via its teaching, clergy and ministries, reveals the benefits, both in this world and in the world to come, of coordinated behavior and the costs of uncoordinated behavior to induce community members to take individually and socially beneficial actions. External forces, the state and secular society, and internal forces, doctrinal disputes, inconsistencies, and incoherence, reduce a church’s ability to coordinate. Empirical analysis shows that the model’s core features and findings are largely consistent with recent U.S. data on church attendance and tithing.

Keywords: Economics of Religion, Spirituality, Community Formation, Coordination Failures

JEL Classification: I19

Suggested Citation

DeLeire, Thomas and Jeitschko, Thomas D. and O'Connell, Seamus and Pecchenino, Rowena, Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself: Community Formation and the Church (August 2, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=923086 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.923086

Thomas DeLeire

Georgetown University ( email )

37th and O Streets, NW
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Washington, DC 20057
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Thomas D. Jeitschko

Michigan State University - Department of Economics ( email )

110 Marshall-Adams Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
United States
517-355-8302 (Phone)
517-432-1068 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.msu.edu/~jeitschk/

Seamus O'Connell

Maynooth College - Faculty of Theology ( email )

2nd Floor
Iontas Building
Maynooth, County Kildare W23 F2H6
Ireland

Rowena Pecchenino (Contact Author)

NUI Maynooth - Department of Economics ( email )

County Kildare
Ireland
35317083751 (Phone)
35317083934 (Fax)

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