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The Economics of Religious Participation: A Cross-Country Study


  • Smith, Ian
  • Sawkins, John W
  • Seaman, Paul T


Levels of participation in organized religion differ markedly across countries, a stylized fact which has resisted a general theoretical explanation. The claim of this paper is that the international variation in religious attendance can be understood in terms of systematic differences in socioeconomic variables. In particular, national religious participation is modeled as a function of investment in religious human capital, social interactions, and religious market structure. Using data for eighteen countries derived from the religious questionnaire of the International Social Survey Programme, the empirical significance of these variables is demonstrated by estimating simple regression equations. Copyright 1998 by WWZ and Helbing & Lichtenhahn Verlag AG

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Ian & Sawkins, John W & Seaman, Paul T, 1998. "The Economics of Religious Participation: A Cross-Country Study," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 25-43.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:51:y:1998:i:1:p:25-43

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brander, James A & Dowrick, Steve, 1994. "The Role of Fertility and Population in Economic Growth: Empirical Results from Aggregate Cross-National Data," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 7(1), pages 1-25.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sacit Hadi Akdede & Hakan Hotunluoðlu, 2008. "Economic Development and Religiosity: An Investigation of Turkish Cities," Papers of the Annual IUE-SUNY Cortland Conference in Economics,in: Proceedings of the Conference on Emerging Economic Issues in a Globalizing World, pages 261-271 Izmir University of Economics.
    2. Guido Heineck, 2001. "The Determinants of Church Attendance and Religious Human Capital in Germany: Evidence from Panel Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 263, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Cameron, Samuel, 1999. "Faith, frequency, and the allocation of time: a micro level study of religious capital and participation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 439-456.
    4. Yazdani, Naveed & Mamoon, Dawood, 2012. "Economics, education and religion: can western theories be generalized across religions?," MPRA Paper 36793, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Brown, Sarah & Taylor, Karl, 2007. "Religion and education: Evidence from the National Child Development Study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 439-460, July.
    6. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2008. "Education and Religion," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 188-215.
    7. Torgler, Benno, 2006. "The importance of faith: Tax morale and religiosity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 81-109, September.
    8. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2017. "Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 456-480, August.
    9. Heineck, Guido, 2004. "Does religion influence the labor supply of married women in Germany?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 307-328, July.
    10. Arano, Kathleen G. & Blair, Benjamin F., 2008. "Modeling religious behavior and economic outcome: Is the relationship bicausal?: Evidence from a survey of Mississippi households," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 2043-2053, October.
    11. Per-Ola Maneschiöld & Bengt Haraldsson, 2007. "Religious Norms and Labour Supply of Married Women in Sweden," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 41-56, Spring.
    12. Anil Rupasingha & David Freshwater, 2001. "Economics of Religious Participation in the Rural South," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 29(3), pages 256-271, Winter.
    13. Ian Smith & John Sawkins, 2003. "The economics of regional variation in religious attendance," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(14), pages 1577-1588.
    14. Hollander, Gideon & Kahana, Nava & Lecker, Tikva, 2003. "Religious and secular human capital: an economic model," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 489-498, November.
    15. 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.
    16. Salaber, Julie, 2013. "Religion and returns in Europe," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 149-160.

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