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Competition and Performance in the Marketplace for Religion: A Theoretical Perspective

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  • Eswaran Mukesh

    (University of British Columbia)

Abstract

This paper, which contributes to the literature that rigorously models religious markets, offers a theoretical framework that incorporates demand and supply sides. The model can accommodate Adam Smith’s view that competition may possibly improve on monopoly’s performance and also David Hume’s opposite view that, because the clergy have an incentive to distort the message of religion, monopoly might possibly improve on competition. Impacts on religiosity of greater diversity and of increased competition in the marketplace for religion are isolated. It is shown that while greater diversity benefits the devout (as claimed by “supply-side” theorists), increased competition dilutes spiritual standards by encouraging monetary donations at the expense of genuine piety. These opposing effects of diversity and competition help reconcile apparently contradictory empirical findings on the American religious market and also those suggesting European “exceptionalism.”

Suggested Citation

  • Eswaran Mukesh, 2011. "Competition and Performance in the Marketplace for Religion: A Theoretical Perspective," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-36, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:11:y:2011:i:1:n:14
    DOI: 10.2202/1935-1682.2723
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    2. Juergen Woeckl & Tanin Chaiyesh, 2014. "A Structural Equation Model for Spiritual Service Volunteer Labor Supply at Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University," Applied Economics Journal, Kasetsart University, Faculty of Economics, Center for Applied Economic Research, vol. 21(1), pages 79-101, June.
    3. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    4. Michael W. Walrath, 2016. "Entry Models Applied to Churches: Could Protestants use a Catholic Bishop to Solve Excess Entry?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 557-588, September.
    5. Daniel M. Hungerman, 2011. "Substitution and Stigma: Evidence on Religious Competition from the Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal," NBER Working Papers 17589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Strulik, Holger, 2016. "An economic theory of religious belief," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 35-46.
    7. Hector Galindo-Silva & Guy Tchuente, 2019. "Fighting for Not-So-Religious Souls: The Role of Religious Competition in Secular Conflicts," Papers 1910.07707, arXiv.org, revised Jul 2021.
    8. Routon P. Wesley & Walker Jay K., 2015. "Are You There God? It’s Me, a College Student: Religious Beliefs and Higher Education," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(4), pages 2111-2137, October.
    9. Pyne, Derek, 2013. "An afterlife capital model of religious choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 32-44.

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