The Greying Church: The Impact of Life Expectancy on Religiosity
AbstractMany churches are concerned about older and dwindling congregations. We develop a theoretical framework to explain not only the downward trend in church attendance, but also the increase in the proportion of older people in the congregations. Religiosity depends positively on the expected social and spiritual benefits attached to religious adherence, as well as the probability of entering heaven in the afterlife. While otherworldly compensation in terms of salvation and spiritual benefits motivates religiosity, the costs of formal religion in terms of time allocated to communal activities and foregone income work in the opposite direction. We show that higher life expectancy discounts expected benefits in the afterlife and is hence likely to lead to postponement of religiosity. For this reason, religious organizations should be prepared to attract older members to their congregations, while emphasizing contemporaneous religious benefits to increase overall church attendance.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE) in its series SIRE Discussion Papers with number 2009-57.
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
religiosity; life expectancy; church attendance;
Other versions of this item:
- Elissaios Papyrakis & Geethanjali Selvaretnam, 2011. "The greying church: the impact of life expectancy on religiosity," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 38(5), pages 438-452, April.
- Elissaios Papyrakis & Geethanjali Selvaretnam, 2009. "The Greying Church: The Impact of Life Expectancy on Religiosity," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 200912, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews.
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Economics; Underlying Principles
- D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
- Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
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