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Rainfall Risk and Religious Membership in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States

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  • Ager, Philipp
  • Ciccone, Antonio

Abstract

Building on the idea that religious communities provide mutual insurance against some idiosyncratic risks, we argue that religious membership is more valuable in societies exposed to greater common risk. In our empirical analysis we exploit rainfall risk as a source of common economic risk in the nineteenth-century United States and show that religious communities were larger in counties where they faced greater rainfall risk. The link between rainfall risk and the size of religious communities is stronger in counties that were more agricultural, that had lower population densities, or that were exposed to greater rainfall risk during the growing season.

Suggested Citation

  • Ager, Philipp & Ciccone, Antonio, 2014. "Rainfall Risk and Religious Membership in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States," Working Papers 14-20, University of Mannheim, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mnh:wpaper:36848
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Marianna Belloc & Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati, 2015. "Earthquakes, Religion, and Transition to Self-Government in Italian Cities," CESifo Working Paper Series 5566, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402, Elsevier.
    3. Marianna Belloc & Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati, 2016. "Earthquakes, Religion, and Transition to Self-Government in ItalianCities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(4), pages 1875-1926.
    4. Jo Thori Lind & Daniel Chen, 2016. "The Political Economy Of Beliefs: Why Fiscal And Social Conservatives/Liberals Come Hand-In-Hand," 2016 Meeting Papers 606, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2017. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of “Rugged Individualism†in the United States," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2018-004, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Grimm, Michael, 2016. "Rainfall Risk and Fertility: Evidence from Farm Settlements during the American Demographic Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 10351, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2017. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of "Rugged Individualism" in the United States," NBER Working Papers 23997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Costa, Francisco Junqueira Moreira da & Marcantonio Junior, Angelo & Castro, Rudi Rocha de, 2019. "Stop suffering! economic downturns and pentecostal upsurge," FGV EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 815, EPGE Brazilian School of Economics and Finance - FGV EPGE (Brazil).
    11. Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, 2013. "Origins of Religiousness: The Role of Natural Disasters," Discussion Papers 13-02, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    12. repec:cpr:ceprdp:14301 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Lewis Davis, 2016. "Individual Responsibility and Economic Development: Evidence from Rainfall Data," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(3), pages 426-470, August.
    14. 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).
    15. Costa, Francisco J M & Junior, Angelo Marcantonio & Rocha, Rudi, 2019. "Stop Suffering! Economic Downturns and Pentecostal Upsurge," SocArXiv 9g5fv, Center for Open Science.
    16. Samuel Bazzi & Gabriel Koehler-Derrick & Benjamin Marx, 2018. "The Institutional Foundations of Religious Politics: Evidence from Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 25151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Philipp Ager & Casper Worm Hansen & Lars Lønstrup, 2014. "Church Membership and Social Insurance: Evidence from the American South," Discussion Papers 14-29, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    18. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2018. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of “Rugged Individualism†in the United States," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series dp-302, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    19. Liang, Yinhe & Dong, Zhiyong, 2019. "Has education led to secularization? Based on the study of compulsory education law in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 324-336.
    20. 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).
    21. Betzer, André & Limbach, Peter & Rau, P. Raghavendra & Schürmann, Henrik, 2019. "Till death (or divorce) do us part: Early-life family disruption and investment behavior," CFR Working Papers 19-01, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
    22. Grimm, Michael, 2017. "Rainfall risk, fertility and development: Evidence from farm settlements during the American demographic transition," Ruhr Economic Papers 718, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    23. repec:cpr:ceprdp:14380 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Davis, Lewis S. & Williamson, Claudia R., 2019. "Does individualism promote gender equality?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 1-1.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Religious community size ; agricultural risk ; informal insurance;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N51 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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