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Food Abstention, Religious Observance & Prosocial Behavior: Evidence from Ramadan


  • Haruvy, Ernan
  • Ioannou, Christos A.
  • Golshirazi, Farnoush


Does food intake affect prosocial behavior? Extant knowledge suggests that food intake increases prosocial behavior. But this may not be universally true, especially when religious fasting holidays are concerned. We investigate experimentally the impact of religious fasting in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on prosocial behavior. Our sample consists of male factory workers in a manufacturing facility in Iran. Each worker is asked to allocate an amount of money between himself and a stranger. Strikingly, the effect of food intake is reversed during the holy month of Ramadan. Workers who are in the midst of their Ramadan fast are far more generous to recipients than workers who have had their evening meal, and more generous than fasting and non-fasting workers outside Ramadan. Interestingly, workers who have had their evening meal during Ramadan are statistically indistinguishable from non-fasting workers outside of Ramadan. Our findings suggest that it is the interaction of food abstention with the ritual of fasting and religious observance that amplifies prosocial behavior.

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  • Haruvy, Ernan & Ioannou, Christos A. & Golshirazi, Farnoush, 2015. "Food Abstention, Religious Observance & Prosocial Behavior: Evidence from Ramadan," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 1507, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  • Handle: RePEc:stn:sotoec:1507

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Filipe Campante & David Yanagizawa-Drott, 2015. "Editor's Choice Does Religion Affect Economic Growth and Happiness? Evidence from Ramadan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 615-658.
    2. Filipe Campante & David Yanagizawa-Drott, 2013. "Does Religion Affect Economic Growth and Happiness? Evidence from Ramadan," CID Working Papers 274, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
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