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Religious Participation versus Shopping: What Makes People Happier?

Listed author(s):
  • Danny Cohen-Zada
  • William Sander
Registered author(s):

    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.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/658862
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/658862
    Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Law and Economics.

    Volume (Year): 54 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 889-906

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/658862
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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    1. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
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    4. Jonathan Gruber & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2008. "The Church Versus the Mall: What Happens When Religion Faces Increased Secular Competition?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 831-862.
    5. Van Praag, Bernard M.S. & Romanov, Dmitri & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2010. "Happiness and financial satisfaction in Israel: Effects of religiosity, ethnicity, and war," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1008-1020, December.
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    7. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
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    10. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 164-187, February.
    11. Daniel Kahneman & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 221-234, Winter.
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    14. Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Happiness: A Revolution in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062771, September.
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