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In the Nation We Trust: National Identity as a Substitute for Religion

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  • Harttgen, Kenneth
  • Opfinger, Matthias

Abstract

We construct an index for national identity using information from the World Values Survey on peoples’ attitudes concerning politics and to the state itself. We then analyze the relationship between our new measure of national identity and social heterogeneity. The results indicate that religious diversity is significantly and positively related to national identity, whereas other variables proxying social heterogeneity are not. We argue that national identity is a substitute for religion. At high levels of religious diversity people do not identify with their religious group. They search other objects of identification offering common values and norms. Hence, people identify at the national level. Furthermore, democratic institutions and mobility throughout the country affect national identity positively.

Suggested Citation

  • Harttgen, Kenneth & Opfinger, Matthias, 2012. "In the Nation We Trust: National Identity as a Substitute for Religion," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-491, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  • Handle: RePEc:han:dpaper:dp-491
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nathan Nunn & Diego Puga, 2012. "Ruggedness: The Blessing of Bad Geography in Africa," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 20-36, February.
    2. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    3. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Constant, Amelie F. & Gataullina, Liliya & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2009. "Ethnosizing immigrants," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 274-287, March.
    5. David Stifel & Luc Christiaensen, 2007. "Tracking Poverty Over Time in the Absence of Comparable Consumption Data," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(2), pages 317-341, June.
    6. Paolo Masella, 2013. "National identity and ethnic diversity," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 437-454, April.
    7. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher S. Ruebeck, 2003. "The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race," NBER Working Papers 9962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Montalvo, Jose G. & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2005. "Ethnic diversity and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 293-323, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2013. "Immigrants, ethnic identities and the nation-state," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 14, pages 259-275 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    National Identity; Social Heterogeneity; Religious Diversity; Common Beliefs;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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