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Substitution and Stigma: Evidence on Religious Competition from the Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal

  • Daniel M. Hungerman

This paper considers substituting one charitable activity for another in the context of religious practice. I examine the impact of the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal on both Catholic and non-Catholic religiosity. I find that the scandal led to a 2-million-member fall in the Catholic population that was compensated by an increase in non-Catholic participation and by an increase in non-affiliation. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest the scandal generated over 3 billion dollars in donations to non-Catholic faiths. Those substituting out of Catholicism frequently chose highly dissimilar alternatives; for example, Baptist churches gained significantly from the scandal while the Episcopal Church did not. These results challenge several theories of religious participation and suggest that regulatory policies or other shocks specific to one religious group could have important spillover effects on other religious groups.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17589.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17589.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
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Publication status: published as “Substitution and Stigma: Evidence on Religious Competition from the Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal,” the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 5(3) (2013), 227-253.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17589
Note: CH LS PE
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  1. Simon Fan, C., 2008. "Religious participation and children's education: A social capital approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 303-317, February.
  2. Gruber Jonathan H, 2005. "Religious Market Structure, Religious Participation, and Outcomes: Is Religion Good for You?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-32, September.
  3. Jonathan Gruber, 2005. "Religious Market Structure, Religious Participation, and Outcomes: Is Religion Good for You?," NBER Working Papers 11377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
  6. 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.
  7. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2004. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," NBER Working Papers 10438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Iannaccone, Laurence R & Finke, Roger & Stark, Rodney, 1997. "Deregulating Religion: The Economics of Church and State," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(2), pages 350-64, April.
  9. Jonathan Gruber, 2004. "Pay or Pray? The Impact of Charitable Subsidies on Religious Attendance," NBER Working Papers 10374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Naomi E. Feldman, 2010. "Time Is Money: Choosing between Charitable Activities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 103-30, February.
  11. Daniel M. Hungerman, 2014. "Do Religious Proscriptions Matter?: Evidence from a Theory-Based Test," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(4), pages 1053-1093.
  12. Eswaran Mukesh, 2011. "Competition and Performance in the Marketplace for Religion: A Theoretical Perspective," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-36, March.
  13. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
  14. Angela K. Dills & Rey Hernández‐Julián, 2012. "Negative Publicity And Catholic Schools," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(1), pages 143-152, 01.
  15. 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.
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