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Religious Participation versus Shopping: What Makes People Happier?

  • Cohen-Zada, Danny


    (Ben Gurion University)

  • Sander, William


    (DePaul University)

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    In this paper, we first explore how an exogenous increase in the opportunity cost of religious participation affects individuals' religious participation and reported happiness using data from the General Social Survey. The exogenous shift in the cost of religious participation is a result of repealing of so-called blue laws which restrict retail activity on Sundays. We find that repealing blue laws causes a significant decline in the level of religious participation of white women and in their happiness. We do not observe any significant decline in reported happiness of other groups whose religious participation was not significantly affected by repeal. We also use repeal as an instrumental variable (IV) for church attendance and provide direct evidence that church attendance has a significant positive effect on happiness, especially for women.

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    Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5198.

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    Length: 55 pages
    Date of creation: Sep 2010
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: published in: Journal of Law and Economics, 2011, 54 (4), 889-906
    Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5198
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    1. Dara N. Lee, 2013. "The Impact of Repealing Sunday Closing Laws on Educational Attainment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(2), pages 286-310.
    2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 826, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    3. Robert Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2003. "International Determinants of Religiosity," NBER Working Papers 10147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    5. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    6. 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.
    7. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2008. "Education and Religion," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 188-215.
    8. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2008. "Happiness Inequality in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 3624, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. repec:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:831-862 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Linda J. Waite & Evelyn L. Lehrer, 2003. "The Benefits from Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 29(2), pages 255-275.
    11. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2009. "Estimating the Causal Effects of Income on Happiness," Discussion Papers 09/02, Department of Economics, University of York.
    12. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
    13. Alan Gerber & Jonathan Gruber & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2008. "Does Church Attendance Cause People to Vote? Using Blue Laws' Repeal to Estimate the Effect of Religiosity on Voter Turnout," NBER Working Papers 14303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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