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Religion, clubs, and emergent social divides


  • Makowsky, Michael D.


Arguments regarding the existence of an American cultural divide are frequently placed in a religious context. This paper seeks to establish that, all politics aside, the American religious divide is real, that religious polarization is not a uniquely American phenomenon, and that religious divides can be understood as naturally emergent within the club theory of religion. Analysis of the survey data reveals a bimodal distribution of religious commitment in the U.S. International data reveals evidence of bimodal distributions in all twenty-nine surveyed countries. The club theory of religion, applied in an agent-based computational model, generates bimodal distributions of member commitment.

Suggested Citation

  • Makowsky, Michael D., 2011. "Religion, clubs, and emergent social divides," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 74-87.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:80:y:2011:i:1:p:74-87
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2011.02.012

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel M. Hungerman, 2014. "Do Religious Proscriptions Matter?: Evidence from a Theory-Based Test," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(4), pages 1053-1093.
    2. Friedman, Daniel. & Fan, Jijian. & Jonathan Gair & Sriya Iyer & Bartosz Redlicki & Chander Velu, 2016. "How Fundamentalism Takes Root: A Simulation Study," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1681, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

    More about this item


    Culture divide; Religious divide; Club theory; Agent-based model; Sacrifice and stigma;

    JEL classification:

    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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