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Religious Identity and Economic Behavior

  • Daniel J. Benjamin
  • James J. Choi
  • Geoffrey W. Fisher

We randomly vary religious identity salience in laboratory subjects to test how identity salience contributes to six hypothesized links from prior literature between religious identity and economic behavior. We find that religious identity salience makes Protestants increase contributions to public goods. Catholics decrease contributions to public goods, expect others to contribute less to public goods, and become less risk averse. Jews more strongly reciprocate as an employee in a bilateral labor market gift-exchange game. We find no evidence of religious identity salience effects on disutility of work effort, discount rates, or generosity in a dictator game.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15925.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Daniel J. Benjamin & James J. Choi & Geoffrey Fisher, 2016. "Religious Identity and Economic Behavior," Review of Economics and Statistics, vol 98(4), pages 617-637.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15925
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