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Religion, Income Inequality, and the Size of the Government

Author

Listed:
  • Ceyhun Elgin
  • Turkmen Goksel
  • Mehmet Y. Gurdal
  • Cuneyt Orman

Abstract

Recent empirical research has demonstrated that countries with higher levels of religiosity are characterized by greater income inequality. We argue that this is due to the lower level of government services demanded in more religious countries. Religion motivates individuals to engage in charitable giving and this leads them to prefer making their contributions privately and voluntarily rather than through the state. To the extent that citizen preferences are reflected in policy outcomes, religiosity results in lower levels of taxes and hence lower levels of spending on both public goods and redistribution. Since measures of income typically do not fully take into account private transfers received, this increases measured income inequality. We formalize these ideas in a general equilibrium political economy model and also show that the implications of our model are supported by cross-country data.

Suggested Citation

  • Ceyhun Elgin & Turkmen Goksel & Mehmet Y. Gurdal & Cuneyt Orman, 2012. "Religion, Income Inequality, and the Size of the Government," Working Papers 1208, Research and Monetary Policy Department, Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey.
  • Handle: RePEc:tcb:wpaper:1208
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ghassan, Hassan B., 2015. "A Consumer Model and Social Welfare Based on the Writings of Shibani (750-805 AD, 131-189 AH)," MPRA Paper 72441, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 05 Mar 2016.
    2. Cagri S. Kumru & Saran Sarntisart, 2013. "Implications of Alternative Banking Systems," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2013-601, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    3. repec:eee:ecmode:v:66:y:2017:i:c:p:42-60 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Pittau, Maria Grazia & Farcomeni, Alessio & Zelli, Roberto, 2016. "Has the attitude of US citizens towards redistribution changed over time?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 52(PB), pages 714-724.
    5. Brown, Sarah & Greene, William H. & Harris, Mark N. & Taylor, Karl, 2015. "An inverse hyperbolic sine heteroskedastic latent class panel tobit model: An application to modelling charitable donations," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 228-236.
    6. Chen, Yangyang & Murgulov, Zoltan & Rhee, S. Ghon & Veeraraghavan, Madhu, 2016. "Religious beliefs and local government financing, investment, and cash holding decisions," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(PA), pages 258-271.
    7. repec:taf:oabmxx:v:3:y:2016:i:1:p:1212682 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Kumru, Cagri S. & Sarntisart, Saran, 2016. "Banking for those unwilling to bank: Implications of Islamic banking systems," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 1-12.
    9. Richard P.C. Brown & Gareth Leeves & Nichola Kitson & Prabha Prayaga, 2015. "Give and Take or Give and Give: Charitable Giving in Migrant Households," Discussion Papers Series 547, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    religion; voluntary donations; taxation; redistribution; income inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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