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Rainfall Risk and Religious Membership in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States

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  • Ager, Philipp
  • Ciccone, Antonio

Abstract

Building on the idea that religious communities provide mutual insurance against some idiosyncratic risks, we argue that religious membership is more valuable in societies exposed to greater common risk. In our empirical analysis we exploit rainfall risk as a source of common economic risk in the nineteenth-century United States and show that religious communities were larger in counties where they faced greater rainfall risk. The link between rainfall risk and the size of religious communities is stronger in counties that were more agricultural, that had lower population densities, or that were exposed to greater rainfall risk during the growing season.

Suggested Citation

  • Ager, Philipp & Ciccone, Antonio, 2014. "Rainfall Risk and Religious Membership in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 10079, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10079
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    Cited by:

    1. Marianna Belloc & Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati, 2016. "Earthquakes, Religion, and Transition to Self-Government in ItalianCities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(4), pages 1875-1926.
    2. Jo Thori Lind & Daniel Chen, 2016. "The Political Economy Of Beliefs: Why Fiscal And Social Conservatives/Liberals Come Hand-In-Hand," 2016 Meeting Papers 606, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, 2015. "Acts of God? Religiosity and Natural Disasters Across Subnational World Districts," Discussion Papers 15-06, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    4. Grimm, Michael, 2016. "Rainfall Risk and Fertility: Evidence from Farm Settlements during the American Demographic Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 10351, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, 2013. "Origins of Religiousness: The Role of Natural Disasters," Discussion Papers 13-02, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    6. Philipp Ager & Casper Worm Hansen & Lars Lønstrup, 2014. "Church Membership and Social Insurance: Evidence from the American South," Discussion Papers 14-29, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    7. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402 Elsevier.
    8. Lewis Davis, 2016. "Individual Responsibility and Economic Development: Evidence from Rainfall Data," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(3), pages 426-470, August.
    9. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Lassebie, Julie & Panin, Amma & Raiber, Eva & Seabright, Paul, 2017. "God insures those who pay?Formal insurance and religious offerings in Ghana," TSE Working Papers 17-831, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    10. Grimm, Michael, 2017. "Rainfall risk, fertility and development: Evidence from farm settlements during the American demographic transition," Ruhr Economic Papers 718, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    agricultural risk; informal insurance; religious community size;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N51 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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