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Acts of God? Religiosity and Natural Disasters Across Subnational World Districts

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  • Jeanet Sinding Bentzen

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

Religiosity affects everything from fertility and health to labor force participation and productivity. But why are some societies more religious than others? To answer this question, I rely on the religious coping theory, which states that many individuals draw on their religious beliefs to understand and deal with adverse life events. Combining subnational district level data on values across the globe from the World Values Survey with spatial data on natural disasters, I find that individuals become more religious when their district was hit recently by an earthquake. And further, I find that this short-term effect co-exists with a long-term impact: Using data on children of immigrants in Europe, I document that high religiosity levels evolve in high earthquake risk areas, and are passed on across generations to individuals no longer living in these areas. The impact is global: earthquakes increase religiosity both within Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, and within all continents. I document that the results are consistent with the literature on religious coping and inconsistent with alternative theories such as insurance or selection.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1506
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    Cited by:

    1. Sascha O. Becker & Jared Rubin & Ludger Woessmann, 2020. "Religion in Economic History: A Survey," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 480, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Hasan, Iftekhar & Manfredonia, Stefano & Noth, Felix, 2020. "Cultural resilience and economic recovery: Evidence from Hurricane Katrina," IWH Discussion Papers 16/2020, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    3. 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).
    4. Daniel M. Hungerman & Kevin Rinz & Jay Frymark, 2019. "Beyond the Classroom: The Implications of School Vouchers for Church Finances," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 588-601, October.
    5. Oscar Zapata, 2018. "Turning to God in Tough Times? Human Versus Material Losses from Climate Disasters in Canada," Economics of Disasters and Climate Change, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 259-281, October.
    6. Kimberley Ann Scharf & Sarah Smith & Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm, 2017. "Lift and Shift: The Effect of Fundraising Interventions in Charity Space and Time," CESifo Working Paper Series 6694, CESifo.
    7. Johar, Meliyanni & Johnston, David W. & Shields, Michael A. & Siminski, Peter & Stavrunova, Olena, 2020. "The Economic Impacts of Direct Natural Disaster Exposure," IZA Discussion Papers 13616, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Costa, Francisco Junqueira Moreira da & Marcantonio Junior, Angelo & Castro, Rudi Rocha de, 2018. "Stop suffering! Economic downturns and pentecostal upsurge," FGV EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 804, EPGE Brazilian School of Economics and Finance - FGV EPGE (Brazil).
    9. Philipp Ager & Casper Worm Hansen & Lars Lønstrup, 2015. "Shaking up the Equilibrium: Natural Disasters, Immigration and Economic Geography," Discussion Papers 15-17, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    10. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Xue, Melanie Meng, 2019. "Folklore," CEPR Discussion Papers 13425, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Rafael Domínguez & Borja López-Noval, 0. "Religiosity and Life Satisfaction Across Countries: New Insights from the Self-Determination Theory," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-24.
    12. Ji, Yaling, 2020. "Religiosity and the adoption of formal financial services," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 378-396.
    13. Giuliano, Paola & Nunn, Nathan, 2017. "Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change," IZA Discussion Papers 10930, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. David de la Croix & Fabio Mariani & Marion Mercier, 2019. "Driven by Institutions, Shaped by Culture: Human Capital and the Secularization of Marriage in Italy," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2019022, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    15. Vincenzo Alfano & Salvatore Ercolano & Gaetano Vecchione, 2020. "Religious Attendance and Covid-19. Evidences from Italian Regions," CESifo Working Paper Series 8596, CESifo.
    16. Riccardo Turati, 2020. "Network-based Connectedness and the Diffusion of Cultural Traits," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2020012, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    17. Jeanet Sinding Bentzen & Nicolai Kaarsen & Asger Moll Wingender, 2017. "Irrigation and Autocracy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 1-53.
    18. Mavisakalyan, Astghik & Tarverdi, Yashar & Weber, Clas, 2020. "Paradise Postponed: Future Tense and Religiosity," GLO Discussion Paper Series 500, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    19. Linda Thunström, 2020. "Thoughts and prayers – Do they crowd out charity donations?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 60(1), pages 1-28, February.
    20. Bentzen, Jeanet & Sperling, Lena, 2020. "God Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 14380, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Religiosity; Natural disasters; Religious coping;

    JEL classification:

    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General

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