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Religion, income inequality, and the size of the government

Author

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  • Elgin, Ceyhun
  • Goksel, Turkmen
  • Gurdal, Mehmet Y.
  • Orman, Cuneyt

Abstract

Recent empirical research has demonstrated that countries with higher levels of religiosity are characterized by greater income inequality. We argue that this is due to the lower level of government services demanded in more religious countries. Religion motivates individuals to engage in charitable giving and this leads them to prefer making their contributions privately and voluntarily rather than through the state. To the extent that citizen preferences are reflected in policy outcomes, religiosity results in lower levels of taxes and hence lower levels of spending on both public goods and redistribution. Since measures of income typically do not fully take into account private transfers received, this increases measured income inequality. We formalize these ideas in a general equilibrium political economy model and also show that the implications of our model are supported by cross-country data.

Suggested Citation

  • Elgin, Ceyhun & Goksel, Turkmen & Gurdal, Mehmet Y. & Orman, Cuneyt, 2013. "Religion, income inequality, and the size of the government," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 225-234.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:30:y:2013:i:c:p:225-234
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2012.08.017
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    Cited by:

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    2. Ghassan, Hassan B., 2015. "A Consumer Model and Social Welfare Based on the Writings of Shibani (750-805 AD, 131-189 AH)," MPRA Paper 72441, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 05 Mar 2016.
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    4. Brown, Sarah & Greene, William H. & Harris, Mark N. & Taylor, Karl, 2015. "An inverse hyperbolic sine heteroskedastic latent class panel tobit model: An application to modelling charitable donations," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 228-236.
    5. Cagri S. Kumru & Saran Sarntisart, 2013. "Implications of Alternative Banking Systems," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2013-601, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    6. Coccia, Mario, 2014. "Socio-cultural origins of the patterns of technological innovation: What is the likely interaction among religious culture, religious plurality and innovation? Towards a theory of socio-cultural drive," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 13-25.
    7. Angel Sharma, 2016. "Managing diversity and equality in the workplace," Cogent Business & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 1212682-121, December.
    8. Lous, Bjorn, 2020. "On free markets, income inequality, happiness and trust," Other publications TiSEM e2480eed-722b-4e2a-8e29-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    9. Grigoriadis, Theocharis, 2017. "Religion, administration & public goods: Experimental evidence from Russia," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 42-60.
    10. Esteban, Joan & Levy, Gilat & Mayoral, Laura, 2018. "Liberté, égalité…religiosité," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 241-253.
    11. Kirchmaier, Isadora & Prüfer, Jens & Trautmann, Stefan T., 2018. "Religion, moral attitudes and economic behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 282-300.
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    14. Amalia, Nadira & Moeis, Jossy P. & Arundina, Tika & Pertiwi, Ristiyanti Hayu & Mardhatillah, Amy, 2021. "Impact analysis of religiosity and altruism on multidimensional inequality;," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 517-525.
    15. Richard P.C. Brown & Gareth Leeves & Nichola Kitson & Prabha Prayaga, 2015. "Give and Take or Give and Give: Charitable Giving in Migrant Households," Discussion Papers Series 547, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    16. Chen, Yangyang & Murgulov, Zoltan & Rhee, S. Ghon & Veeraraghavan, Madhu, 2016. "Religious beliefs and local government financing, investment, and cash holding decisions," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(PA), pages 258-271.
    17. Kirchmaier, Isadora & Prüfer, Jens & Trautmann, Stefan, 2018. "Religion, moral attitudes & economic behavior," Other publications TiSEM 669f51df-0d23-4657-8b16-5, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Religion; Voluntary donations; Taxation; Redistribution; Income inequality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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