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A Theory of Liberal Churches

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  • Michael D. Makowsky

    () (Department of Economics, Towson University)

Abstract

There is a counterintuitive gap in the club theory of religion. While it elegantly accounts for the notable success of strict sectarian religious groups in recruiting members and maintaining commitment, it exhibits less satisfactory properties when used to account for groups requiring neither extreme nor zero sacrifice. Such corner solutions, compared to the moderate middle, are rarely observed empirically. Within the original representative agent model, moderate groups are everywhere and always a suboptimal choice for rational, utility maximizing agents. In this paper, we extend the original model to operate within a multi-agent computational context, with heterogeneous agents occupying coordinates in a two dimensional lattice, making repeated decisions over time. Our model offers the possibility of successful moderate groups, including outcomes wherein the population is dominated by moderate groups. The viability of moderate groups is a result of heterogeneous agent wages. Lower wage agents offer greater time contributions, but lesser financial contributions to groups. Higher sacrifice rates incentive greater contributions from members, but reduce private productivity and screen out other potential members with greater financial resources. Moderate groups succeed by offering an optimal balance of these countervailing forces.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Makowsky, 2010. "A Theory of Liberal Churches," Working Papers 2010-04, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:tow:wpaper:2010-04
    as

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    File URL: http://webapps.towson.edu/cbe/economics/workingpapers/2010-04.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Metin Cosgel & Lanse Minkler, 2004. "Religious Identity and Consumption," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(3), pages 339-350.
    2. Williamson, Oliver, 2009. "The Theory of the Firm as Governance Structure: From Choice to Contract," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 6, pages 111-134, December.
    3. Hungerman, Daniel M., 2009. "Crowd-out and diversity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 729-740, June.
    4. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
    5. Eli Berman, 2000. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 905-953.
    6. 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 271-291, April.
    7. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Accounting for moderate religion
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-04-03 06:33:00

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Club Theory of Religion; Liberal; Moderate; Multi-Agent Computational Model; Sacrifice; Heterogeneous Agents.;

    JEL classification:

    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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