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Religious Freedom and the Unintended Consequences of State Religion

Listed author(s):
  • Charles M. North


    (Department of Economics, Baylor University, P.O. Box 98003, Waco, TX 76798-8003, USA)

  • Carl R. Gwin


    (Department of Economics, Baylor University, P.O. Box 98003, Waco, TX 76798-8003, USA)

Registered author(s):

    We use a cross-section of 59 countries to examine the impact of state religion and of constitutional protection of religion on the degree of religiosity within a country. Our measure of religiosity is the percentage of the population who attend religious services at least once a week. We find that both establishment of a state religion and constitutional protection of religion have significant (and opposing) effects. The existence of a state religion reduces attendance by 14.6–16.7% of the total population, whereas each decade of constitutional protection increases attendance by approximately 1.2% of the population. We also find that other measures of religious regulation have significant negative effects on attendance. Ironically, the motive behind establishment of a particular state religion usually is to strengthen that religion, but the effects are ultimately to undermine the vitality of the established religion.

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    Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

    Volume (Year): 71 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 1 (July)
    Pages: 103-117

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    Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:71:1:y:2004:p:103-117
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