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Economics, Religion and Happiness


  • Lasse Steiner
  • Lisa Leinert
  • Bruno S. Frey


Die oekonomische Forschung nutzt bei der Analyse der Religion im Wesentlichen zwei Herangehensweisen. Der erste Ansatz beschaeftigt sich mit dem Einfluss der Religion auf die Wirtschaft. Die Religionen beinhalten ein Wertesystem, welches oekonomische Einstellungen und die Produktion beeinflussen. Innerhalb des zweiten Ansatzes wird religioeses Verhalten mit Hilfe oekonomischer Modelle erklaert. Diese zeigen, wie Individuen Nutzen aus Religion ziehen koennen. Die moderne Gluecksforschung ermoeglicht es des Weiteren, den Einfluss von Religion auf das subjektive Wohlbefinden empirisch zu messen. Wir bestaetigen die positive Korrelation von Religion und Glueck fuer die Schweiz und zeigen, dass vor allem der positive Effekt des Kirchgangs auf das Wohlergehen robust und betraechtlich ist. (This survey intends to portray the two main approaches of economic research on religion. The first investigates the impact of religion on the economy. Religion and the internalized value system are found to influence economic attitudes output in a favorable way. The second approach is to explain religious behavior with economic models showing how an individual can derive utility from religion. Modern happiness research makes it possible to measure the impact of religion on subjective well-being empirically. The literature finds a positive correlation of religion and happiness, with a robust effect of churchgoing and protestant confession, while the results on internal religiosity are more ambiguous. In our analyses for Switzerland we are able to confirm these results and show that the effect of church going on happiness is quite sizeable.)

Suggested Citation

  • Lasse Steiner & Lisa Leinert & Bruno S. Frey, 2010. "Economics, Religion and Happiness," Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik - Journal for Business, Economics & Ethics, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 11(1), pages 9-24.
  • Handle: RePEc:rai:ethics:doi_10.1688/1862-0043_zfwu_2010_01_steiner

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    Cited by:

    1. Janine Höhener & Christoph A. Schaltegger, 2012. "Religionsökonomie: eine Übersicht," CREMA Working Paper Series 2012-08, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    2. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Stutzer, Alois, 2014. "Economic Approaches to Understanding Change in Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 8131, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item


    Well-being; Happiness; Religion; Church; Switzerland; Psychological Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy


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