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Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives

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  • Iannaccone, Laurence R

Abstract

This paper presents an economic analysis of religious behavior that accounts for the continuing success of groups with strange requirements and seemingly inefficient prohibitions. The analysis does not presuppose any special motives for religious activity. Rather, religion is modeled as a club good that displays positive returns to "participatory crowding." The analysis demonstrates that efficient religions with perfectly rational members may benefit from stigma, self-sacrifice, and bizarre behavioral restrictions. The model also addresses sacrifice in nonreligious "social clubs": fraternities, communes, political parties, work groups, and families. Copyright 1992 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-291, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:100:y:1992:i:2:p:271-91
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    2. Maddison, Angus, 1987. "Growth and Slowdown in Advanced Capitalist Economies: Techniques of Quantitative Assessment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 649-698, June.
    3. Daniel Cohen & Jeffrey Sachs, 1991. "Growth and External Debt Under Risk of Debt Repudiation," NBER Chapters,in: International Volatility and Economic Growth: The First Ten Years of The International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 437-472 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rebelo, Sergio, 1991. "Long-Run Policy Analysis and Long-Run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 500-521, June.
    5. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1991. "Convergence across States and Regions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 107-182.
    6. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 223-251, April.
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