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Does Church Attendance Cause People to Vote? Using Blue Laws' Repeal to Estimate the Effect of Religiosity on Voter Turnout

Author

Listed:
  • Alan Gerber
  • Jonathan Gruber
  • Daniel M. Hungerman

Abstract

Regular church attendance is strongly associated with a higher probability of voting. It is an open question as to whether this association, which has been confirmed in numerous surveys, is causal. We use the repeal of the laws restricting Sunday retail activity ("Blue laws") to measure the effects of church-going on political participation. The repeal of Blue Laws caused a 5 percent decrease in church attendance. We measure the effect of Blue Laws' repeal on political participation and find that following the repeal turnout falls by approximately 1 percentage point. This turnout decline, which is statistically significant and fairly robust across model specifications, is consistent with the large effect of church attendance on turnout reported in the literature, and suggests that church attendance may have significant causal influence on voter turnout.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14303
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Milligan, Kevin & Moretti, Enrico & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2004. "Does education improve citizenship? Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1667-1695, August.
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    3. Jonathan Gruber & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2006. "The Church vs the Mall: What Happens When Religion Faces Increased Secular Competition?," NBER Working Papers 12410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Evelyn Lehrer, 1996. "Religion as a determinant of marital fertility," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 9(2), pages 173-196, June.
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    7. Evelyn Lehrer & Carmel Chiswick, 1993. "Religion as a determinant of marital stability," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 30(3), pages 385-404, August.
    8. Lipford, Jody & McCormick, Robert E. & Tollison, Robert D., 1993. "Preaching matters," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 235-250, August.
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:102:y:2008:i:01:p:33-48_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Hull, Brooks B. & Bold, Frederick, 1995. "Preaching matters: Replication and extension," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 143-149, June.
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    Blog mentions

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    1. Mehr als Bratwurst und Cervelat
      by Monika Bütler in BATZ.ch on 2013-09-14 17:34:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Berggren, Niclas & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2013. "Does religiosity promote property rights and the rule of law?," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(02), pages 161-185, June.
    2. Hungerman, Daniel M., 2014. "The effect of education on religion: Evidence from compulsory schooling laws," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 52-63.
    3. Arnaud Chevalier & Orla Doyle, 2012. "SCHOOLING AND VOTER TURNOUT: Is there an American Exception?," Working Papers 201210, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    4. Daniel M. Hungerman, 2011. "Substitution and Stigma: Evidence on Religious Competition from the Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal," NBER Working Papers 17589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Zussman, Asaf, 2014. "The effect of political violence on religiosity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 64-83.
    6. Berggren, Niclas & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2011. "Is the importance of religion in daily life related to social trust? Cross-country and cross-state comparisons," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 459-480.
    7. 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).
    8. repec:kap:jbuset:v:142:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2705-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Mannan, Kazi Abdul & Farhana, Khandaker Mursheda, 2014. "Rural Household Contribution to the Financial and Capital Market in Bangladesh: A Micro Level Study of Remittances from Italy," MPRA Paper 60309, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Iyer, Sriya & Shrivastava, Anand, 2018. "Religious riots and electoral politics in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 104-122.
    11. R. Mark R. Isaac & Douglas A. Norton, 2011. "Just the Facts Ma'am: A Case Study of the Reversal of Corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department," Working Papers wp2011_08_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
    12. Dara N. Lee, 2011. "The Impact of Repealing Sunday Closing Laws on Educational Attainment," Working Papers 1117, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
    13. Barış K. Yörük, 2013. "The Impact of Charitable Subsidies on Religious Giving and Attendance: Evidence from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1708-1721, December.
    14. Baris Yoruk, 2013. "Are Generous People More Likely to Vote?," Discussion Papers 13-10, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
    15. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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