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Effects of religiosity on social behaviour: Experimental evidence from a representative sample of Spaniards

  • Brañas-Garza, Pablo
  • Espín, Antonio M.
  • Neuman, Shoshana

This study explores the effect of several personal religion-related variables on social behaviour, using three paradigmatic economic games: the dictator (DG), ultimatum (UG), and trust (TG) games. A large carefully designed sample of a Spanish urban adult population (N=766) is employed. From participants’ decisions in these games we obtain measures of altruism, bargaining behaviour and sense of fairness/equality, trust, and positive reciprocity. Three dimensions of religiosity are examined: (i) religious denomination; (ii) the intensity of religiosity, measured by active participation at church services; and (iii) converting out into a different denomination than the one raised in. The major results are: (i) individuals with “no religion” made decisions closer to rational selfish behaviour in the DG and the UG compared to those who affiliate with a “standard” religious denomination; (ii) among Catholics, intensity of religiosity is the key variable that affects social behaviour insofar as religiously-active individuals are generally more pro-social than non-active ones; and (iii) the religion raised in seems to have no effect on pro-sociality, beyond the effect of the current measures of religiosity. Importantly, behaviour in the TG is not predicted by any of the religion-related variables we analyse. Given the accelerating share of “no religion” individuals (in Europe and elsewhere) and the large influx of immigrants – who tend to be more religiously active compared to the native populations – our findings have significant implications for the future pro-sociality patterns in Europe.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9709.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9709
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  1. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-77, January.
  2. Gianandrea Staffiero & Filippos Exadaktylos & Antonio M. Espín, 2012. "Accepting Zero in the Ultimatum Game Does Not Reflect Selfish Preferences," Working Papers 201203, Murat Sertel Center for Advanced Economic Studies, Istanbul Bilgi University.
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  6. Pablo Branas-Garza & Máximo Rossi & Dayna Zaclicever, 2009. "Individual's Religiosity Enhances Trust: Latin American Evidence for the Puzzle," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(2-3), pages 555-566, 03.
  7. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond The Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, And The Evolution Of Ethnic And Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988, August.
  8. Fernández, Raquel & Fogli, Alessandra, 2005. "Fertility: The Role of Culture and Family Experience," CEPR Discussion Papers 5221, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2002. "People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes," NBER Working Papers 9237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Antonio M. Espín & Filippos Exadaktylos & Benedikt Herrmann & Pablo Brañas-Garza, 2013. "Short- and Long-run Goals in Ultimatum Bargaining," Working Papers 13-17, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  11. Lisa R. Anderson & Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 2005. "Did the Devil Make Them Do It? The Effects of Religion in Public Goods and Trust Games," Working Papers 20, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  12. Lisa Anderson & Jennifer Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 2010. "Did the Devil Make Them Do It? The Effects of Religion in Public Goods and Trust Games -super-* ," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 163-175, 05.
  13. Ronen Bar-El & Teresa García-Muñoz & Shoshana Neuman & Yossef Tobol, 2010. "The Evolution of Secularization: Cultural Transmission, Religion and Fertility. Theory, Simulations and Evidence," Papers on Economics of Religion 10/03, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  14. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Ramón Cobo-Reyes & Almudena Domínguez, 2006. ""Si el lo necesita": Gypsy fairness in Vallecas," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 253-264, September.
  15. Simon Fan, C., 2008. "Religious participation and children's education: A social capital approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 303-317, February.
  16. Mariya Aleksynska & Barry Chiswick, 2013. "The determinants of religiosity among immigrants and the native born in Europe," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 563-598, December.
  17. Alberto Bisin & Giorgio Topa & Thierry Verdier, 2004. "Religious Intermarriage and Socialization in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 615-664, June.
  18. Nava Ashraf & Iris Bohnet & Nikita Piankov, 2006. "Decomposing trust and trustworthiness," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 193-208, September.
  19. Migheli, Matteo, 2009. "Assessing trust through social capital? A possible experimental answer," POLIS Working Papers 119, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  20. Ben-Ner, Avner & Halldorsson, Freyr, 2010. "Trusting and trustworthiness: What are they, how to measure them, and what affects them," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 64-79, February.
  21. Anderson, Lisa R. & Mellor, Jennifer M., 2009. "Religion and cooperation in a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 58-60, October.
  22. Filippos Exadaktylos & Antonio M. Espin & Pablo Branas-Garza, 2012. "Experimental Subjects are Not Different," Working Papers 12-11, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  23. Garza, Pablo Brañas & Neuman, Shoshana, 2003. "Analyzing Religiosity Within an Economic Framework: The Case of Spanish Catholics," IZA Discussion Papers 868, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  24. McCleary, Rachel & Barro, Robert, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth across Countries," Scholarly Articles 3708464, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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