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International Determinants of Religiosity

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  • Robert Barro
  • Rachel M. McCleary

Abstract

Two important theories of religiosity are the secularization hypothesis and the religion-market model. According to the former theory, economic development reduces religious participation and beliefs. According to the latter theory, religiosity depends on the presence of a state religion, regulation of the religion market, suppression of organized religion under Communism, and the degree of religious pluralism. We assess the theories by using survey information for 61 countries over the last 20 years on church attendance and religious beliefs. In accordance with the secularization view, overall economic development represented by per capita GDP tends to reduce religiosity. Moreover, instrumental estimates suggest that this link reflects causation from economic development to religiosity, rather than the reverse. The presence of an official state religion tends to increase religiosity, probably because of the subsidies that flow to organized religion. However, in accordance with the religion-market model, religiosity falls with government regulation of the religion market, Communist suppression, and a reduction in religious pluralism. Although religiosity declines overall with economic development, the nature of the interaction varies with the dimension of development. For example, religiosity is positively related to education and the presence of children and negatively related to urbanization.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2003. "International Determinants of Religiosity," NBER Working Papers 10147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10147
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2008. "Education and Religion," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 188-215.
    3. 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.
    4. World Bank, 2002. "World Development Indicators 2002," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13921, July.
    5. Robert J. Barro & Rachel McCleary, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 9682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Esa Mangeloja, 2004. "Interrelationship of economic growth and regional religious properties," ERSA conference papers ersa04p94, European Regional Science Association.
    2. S. Brammer & Geoffrey Williams & John Zinkin, 2007. "Religion and Attitudes to Corporate Social Responsibility in a Large Cross-Country Sample," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 71(3), pages 229-243, March.
    3. Cohen-Zada, Danny & Sander, William, 2010. "Religious Participation versus Shopping: What Makes People Happier?," IZA Discussion Papers 5198, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. van Dalen, Hendrik P., 2008. "Designing Global Collective Action in Population and HIV/AIDS Programs, 1983-2002: Has Anything Changed?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 362-382, March.
    5. Elgin, Ceyhun & Goksel, Turkmen & Gurdal, Mehmet Y. & Orman, Cuneyt, 2013. "Religion, income inequality, and the size of the government," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 225-234.
    6. Steven N. Durlauf & Andros Kourtellos & Chih Ming Tan, 2005. "How Robust Are the Linkages Between Religiosity and Economic Growth," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0510, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    7. Fabio Zagonari, 2011. "Which Ethics Will Make us Individually and Socially Happier? A Cross-Culture and Cross-Development Analytical Model," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 77-103, March.
    8. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:63:y:2018:i:c:p:134-153 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2005. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1331-1370.
    10. Esa Mangeloja, 2004. "Economic Growth and Religious Production Efficiency," DEGIT Conference Papers c009_040, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    11. MICHAEL McBRIDE, 2010. "Religious Market Competition in a Richer World," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 148-171, January.
    12. Michael McBride, 2005. "Why Hasn’t Economic Growth Killed Religion?," Working Papers 050602, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    13. Esa Mangeloja, 2005. "Economic growth and religious production efficiency," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(20), pages 2349-2359.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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