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Religious Participation versus Shopping: What Makes People Happier?

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  • Danny Cohen-Zada
  • William Sander

Abstract

In this paper, we first explore how an exogenous increase in the opportunity cost of religious participation affects an individual's religious participation and reported happiness, using data from the General Social Survey. The exogenous shift in the cost of religious participation is a result of the repeal of so-called blue laws that restrict retail activity on Sundays. We find that repealing blue laws causes a significant decline in the religious participation of women and in their happiness. For men, we do not observe any effect on happiness, while the estimate of the effect on church attendance is similar in magnitude to that for women but is imprecise. We also use repeal as an instrumental variable for church attendance and provide direct evidence that church attendance has a significant positive effect on happiness.

Suggested Citation

  • Danny Cohen-Zada & William Sander, 2011. "Religious Participation versus Shopping: What Makes People Happier?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(4), pages 889-906.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/658862
    DOI: 10.1086/658862
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Grönqvist, Hans & Niknami, Susan, 2014. "Alcohol availability and crime: Lessons from liberalized weekend sales restrictions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 77-84.
    2. Zussman, Asaf, 2014. "The effect of political violence on religiosity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 64-83.
    3. Shang Ha & Seung-Jin Jang, 2015. "National Identity, National Pride, and Happiness: The Case of South Korea," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 121(2), pages 471-482, April.
    4. Dara N. Lee, 2013. "The Impact of Repealing Sunday Closing Laws on Educational Attainment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(2), pages 286-310.
    5. Park, Yoon Soo, 2018. "Can Religion Save Our Health?: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the U.S," KDI Journal of Economic Policy, Korea Development Institute (KDI), vol. 40(1), pages 31-43.
    6. Bahadır Dursun & Resul Cesur, 2016. "Transforming lives: the impact of compulsory schooling on hope and happiness," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(3), pages 911-956, July.

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