Why Churches Need Free-riders: Religious Capital Formation and Religious Group Survival
AbstractAccording to existing theory, religion thrives when groups overcome the free-rider problem in the production of religious goods. This paper explains, however, that allowing some free-riding is necessary in a dynamic setting. If an individual only contributes when she has high religious capital, and if capital only forms after exposure to the religious good, then a church must allow her to temporarily free-ride in order to turn her into a future contributor. Free-riders comprise a risky but necessary investment by the church. Strict churches screen out riskier investments yet still allow some free-riding. This explanation yields predictions consistent with the empirical evidence.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 060722.
Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Religion; Free-riding; Religious capital;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
- L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs
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