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Religious Identity, Public Goods and Centralization: Evidence from Russian and Israeli Cities

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  • Benno Torgler
  • Theocharis Grigoriadis

Abstract

In this paper, we analyze the effects of religious identity - defined both as personal identification with a religious tradition and institutional ideas on the provision of public goods - on attitudes toward central government. We explore whether citizens belonging to collectivist rather than individualist religious denominations are more likely to evaluate their central government positively. Moreover, we explore whether adherence to collectivist norms of economic and political organization leads to a positive evaluation of central government. Surveys were conducted in Russia and Israel as these countries provide a mosaic of three major world religions - Judaism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Sunni Islam. The information gathered also allows us to study whether attitudes towards religious institutions such as the Russian Orthodox Church, the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, and the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Israel are able to predict positive attitudes toward centralized forms of governance. We find strong support for the proposition that collectivist norms and an institutional religious identity enhance positive attitudes towards central government.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by QUT Business School in its series QuBE Working Papers with number 018.

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Date of creation: 15 Aug 2013
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Handle: RePEc:qut:qubewp:wp018

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Web page: http://www.qut.edu.au/research/research-projects/queensland-behavioural-economics-group-qube

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Keywords: Religious identity; public goods; collectivism; individualism; local government; centralization; Russia; Israel;

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  1. Brender, Adi, 2003. "The effect of fiscal performance on local government election results in Israel: 1989-1998," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2187-2205, September.
  2. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "Social Capital and Community Governance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 419-436, November.
  3. Olivier Blanchard & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Federalism With and Without Political Centralization: China Versus Russia," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 48(4), pages 8.
  4. Ran Abramitzky, 2008. "The Limits of Equality: Insights from the Israeli Kibbutz," Discussion Papers 07-048, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  5. Gilles, Robert P. & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1997. "Decentralization in Replicated Club Economies with Multiple Private Goods," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 363-387, February.
  6. Ran Abramitzky, 2008. "The Limits of Equality: Insights from the Israeli Kibbutz," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1111-1159, August.
  7. Abhijit Banerjee & Rohini Somanathan, 2004. "The political economy of public goods: Some evidence from India," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 04-17, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  8. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
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