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Religion and Political Economy in an International Panel

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  • McCleary, Rachel
  • Barro, Robert

Abstract

Economic and political developments affect religiosity, and the extent of religious participation and beliefs influence economic performance and political institutions. We study these two directions of causation in a broad cross-country panel that includes survey information over the last 20 years on church attendance and an array of religious beliefs. Although religiosity declines overall with economic development, the nature of the response varies with the dimension of development. Church attendance and religious beliefs are positively related to education (thereby conflicting with theories in which religion reflects non-scientific thinking) and negatively related to urbanization. Attendance also declines with higher life expectancy and lower fertility. We investigate the effects of official state religions, government regulation of the religion market, Communism, religious pluralism, and the denominational composition of religious adherence. On the other side, we find that economic growth responds positively to the extent of some religious beliefs but negatively to church attendance. That is, growth depends on the extent of believing relative to belonging. These results hold up when we use as instrumental variables the measures of official state religion, government regulation, and religious pluralism.

Suggested Citation

  • McCleary, Rachel & Barro, Robert, 2002. "Religion and Political Economy in an International Panel," Scholarly Articles 3221170, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:3221170
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Robert J. Barro, 1998. "Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Study," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522543, January.
    2. Robert B. Ekelund, Jr. & Robert F. Hebert & Robert D. Tollison, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of the Protestant Reformation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 646-671, June.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2008. "Education and Religion," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 188-215.
    4. Stulz, Rene M. & Williamson, Rohan, 2003. "Culture, openness, and finance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 313-349, December.
    5. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-563, July.
    6. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    7. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
    8. World Bank, 2002. "World Development Indicators 2002," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13921, January.
    9. 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.
    10. Iannaccone, Laurence & Stark, Rodney & Finke, Roger, 1998. "Rationality and the "Religious Mind."," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 373-389, July.
    11. Barro, Robert J, 2000. "Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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