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Religious Freedom and the Unintended Consequences of State Religion

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  • Charles M. North

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Baylor University, P.O. Box 98003, Waco, TX 76798-8003, USA)

  • Carl R. Gwin

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Baylor University, P.O. Box 98003, Waco, TX 76798-8003, USA)

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    Abstract

    We use a cross-section of 59 countries to examine the impact of state religion and of constitutional protection of religion on the degree of religiosity within a country. Our measure of religiosity is the percentage of the population who attend religious services at least once a week. We find that both establishment of a state religion and constitutional protection of religion have significant (and opposing) effects. The existence of a state religion reduces attendance by 14.6–16.7% of the total population, whereas each decade of constitutional protection increases attendance by approximately 1.2% of the population. We also find that other measures of religious regulation have significant negative effects on attendance. Ironically, the motive behind establishment of a particular state religion usually is to strengthen that religion, but the effects are ultimately to undermine the vitality of the established religion.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

    Volume (Year): 71 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 1 (July)
    Pages: 103-117

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    Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:71:1:y:2004:p:103-117

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    Web page: http://www.southerneconomic.org/
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    Cited by:
    1. Pena López, J.A. & Sanchez Santos, J.M., 2005. "Mercados de creencias versus hipótesis de la secularización: aspectos positivos y normativos/Markets of beliefs vs. scularization hupothecis: positive and normative aspects," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 23, pages 837-861, Diciembre.
    2. Berggren, Niclas & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2011. "Is the importance of religion in daily life related to social trust? Cross-country and cross-state comparisons," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 459-480.
    3. Oliveira, Livio Luiz Soares de & Neto, Giácomo Balbinotto, 2013. "A teoria do mercado religioso : evidências empíricas da literatura
      [The theory of religious market : empirical evidence from the literature]
      ," MPRA Paper 51716, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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