IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

An Economist’s Guide to Heaven


  • Muller, Nick
  • Gray, Jo Anna
  • Stone, Joe


This paper is the first to offer an economic model of God and humanity as optimizing agents in the context of concrete belief archetypes (religious ‘contracts’) in Judeo-Christian theology. Data support the model’s unique predictions, despite their otherwise counterintuitive, unlikely nature. For example, the model requires that in one belief archetype, ‘good works’ not increase with strength of faith, as one might otherwise expect, and that what appears may be God’s dominant contract precisely balances divine penalties for reneging on promises with incentives to seek divine ‘gifts’—an equivalence supported in the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Muller, Nick & Gray, Jo Anna & Stone, Joe, 2010. "An Economist’s Guide to Heaven," MPRA Paper 22539, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:22539

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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 350-364, April.
    2. Lipford, Jody W. & Tollison, Robert D., 2003. "Religious participation and income," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 249-260, June.
    3. Esa Mangeloja, 2003. "Application of Economic Concepts on Religious Behavior," Others 0310003, EconWPA.
    4. Evelyn L. Lehrer, 2004. "Religion as a Determinant of Economic and Demographic Behavior in the United States," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(4), pages 707-726.
    5. Long, Stephen H & Settle, Russell F, 1977. "Household Allocation of Time and Church Attendance: Some Additional Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(2), pages 409-413, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. An economic model of God
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-06-08 19:17:00

    More about this item


    economics; religion;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Economic Logic blog


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:22539. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.