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The religious transition - A long-run perspective


  • Erich Gundlach

    (Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Germany)

  • Martin Paldam

    () (School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus, Denmark)


We use factor analysis to derive a robust measure of religiosity from items reported in five waves of the World Value Survey. Our measure of religiosity is negatively correlated with per capita income. Development apparently causes religiosity to fall to about half its pre-modern level. Most components of the demand for religion are reduced by development. The supply of religion declines once churches lose control over the institutions providing collective goods like education, health, and social security. These goods used to be supplied by churches jointly with religious services but tend to be supplied by the state with rising levels of develop¬ment. Aspects of supply and demand are integrated in a CES production function framework that can explain the direction of causality in the observed negative correlation between income and religiosity.

Suggested Citation

  • Erich Gundlach & Martin Paldam, 2009. "The religious transition - A long-run perspective," Economics Working Papers 2009-15, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
  • Handle: RePEc:aah:aarhec:2009-15

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Lipford, Jody & McCormick, Robert E. & Tollison, Robert D., 1993. "Preaching matters," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 235-250, August.
    3. Gundlach, Erich & Paldam, Martin, 2009. "A farewell to critical junctures: Sorting out long-run causality of income and democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 340-354, September.
    4. Gundlach, Erich & Paldam, Martin, 2009. "The transition of corruption: From poverty to honesty," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 146-148, June.
    5. Martin Paldam & Erich Gundlach, 2008. "Two Views on Institutions and Development: The Grand Transition vs the Primacy of Institutions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 65-100, February.
    6. Krueger, Anne O, 1996. "Political Economy of Agricultural Policy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 87(1-2), pages 163-175, April.
    7. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Corrigenda [Introduction to the Economics of Religion]," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 1941-1941, December.
    8. Robert B. Ekelund Jr. & Robert F. Hebert & Robert D. Tollison, 2008. "The Marketplace of Christianity," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550717, July.
    9. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs, Douglas Jr., 2005. "Biogeography and long-run economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 909-938, May.
    10. Opfinger, Matthias, 2011. "Religious Market Theory vs. Secularization: The Role of Religious Diversity Revisited," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-475, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    11. Azzi, Corry & Ehrenberg, Ronald G, 1975. "Household Allocation of Time and Church Attendance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(1), pages 27-56, February.
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    13. Rachel M. McCleary & Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Religion and Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 49-72, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Opfinger, Matthias & Gundlach, Erich, 2011. "Religiosity as a determinant of happiness," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 48360, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    2. Kenneth Harttgen & Matthias Opfinger, 2014. "National Identity and Religious Diversity," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 346-367, August.
    3. repec:kap:jecgro:v:22:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10887-017-9142-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Erich Gundlach & Martin Paldam, 2016. "Socioeconomic transitions as common dynamic processes," Economics Working Papers 2016-06, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    5. repec:kap:pubcho:v:172:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0455-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Holger Strulik, 2016. "Secularization And Long-Run Economic Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(1), pages 177-200, January.
    7. Moamen Gouda & Sang-Min Park, 2014. "Religious Loyalty and Acceptance of Corruption," Working Papers 855, Economic Research Forum, revised Nov 2014.
    8. Gouda Moamen & Park Sang-Min, 2015. "Religious Loyalty and Acceptance of Corruption," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 235(2), pages 184-206, April.

    More about this item


    Levels of development; religiosity; biogeography;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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