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An economic theory of religious belief

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  • Strulik, Holger

Abstract

In this paper I consider how individuals allocate their time between church attendance (and other religious activities) and secular leisure activities. Moreover, individuals use a cognitive style, which is either intuitive-believing or reflective-analytical. I assume that the full benefit from religious activities is achieved by intuitive believers. The model predicts that, ceteris paribus, wealthier individuals and individuals with higher cognitive ability are more likely to abandon the intuitive-believing cognitive style. They may continue to attend church but do so less frequently than intuitive believers. In general equilibrium, there exists a locally stable steady state where believing and frequent church attendance is widespread across the social strata. A sufficiently large negative shock (e.g. the Enlightenment, repeal of Sunday shopping laws), however, initiates the gradual secularization of society.

Suggested Citation

  • Strulik, Holger, 2016. "An economic theory of religious belief," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 35-46.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:128:y:2016:i:c:p:35-46
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2016.04.007
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    Cited by:

    1. David de la Croix & Fabio Mariani & Marion Mercier, 2019. "Driven by Institutions, Shaped by Culture: Human Capital and the Secularization of Marriage in Italy," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2019022, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Religiosity; Church attendance; Cognitive style; Consumerism; Fuzzy fidelity;

    JEL classification:

    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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