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Resource Blessing? Oil, Risk, and Religious Communities as Social Insurance in the U.S. South

Author

Listed:
  • Ferrara, Andreas

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Testa, Patrick A.

    (Tulane University)

Abstract

Religious communities are important providers of social insurance. We document the development of religious communities in the face of economic volatility associated with natural resource abundance, using variation in major oilfield discoveries in the U.S. South between 1890 and 1990. We find that oil discoveries predict large and persistent increases in church membership. Effects are increasing with oil price volatility and larger for “oil-dependent” counties with small pre-oil populations and manufacturing sectors. Consistent with social insurance, larger religious communities limit spillovers from oil shocks across sectors, smoothing unemployment, while access to credit, private insurance, and public social insurance attenuate effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Ferrara, Andreas & Testa, Patrick A., 2020. "Resource Blessing? Oil, Risk, and Religious Communities as Social Insurance in the U.S. South," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 513, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:513
    as

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social insurance; resource abundance; religion; church membership; oil; risk JEL Classification: N31; N32; H41; G52;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • G52 - Financial Economics - - Household Finance - - - Insurance

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