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The Political Economy of Beliefs: Why Fiscal and Social Conservatives/Liberals (Sometimes) Come Hand-in-Hand

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  • Chen, Daniel L.
  • Lind, Jo Thori

Abstract

Why are religious groups with greater within-group charitable giving more socially conservative and opposed to the welfare state? We propose and test a theory where religious provision of social insurance explains why fiscal and social conservatism align. The alignment disappears when there is a state church and reverses for members of a state church. This reversal is unlikely to be driven by omitted environmental variables: exogenous increases in church-state separation precede increases in the alignment between fiscal and social conservatism. The theory provides a novel explanation for religious history: as elites gain access to alternative social insurance, they judiciate increasing church-state separation to create a constituency for lower taxes. This holds if religious voters exceed non-religious voters, otherwise, elites prefer less church-state separation in order to curb the secular left, generating multiple steady states where some countries sustain high church-state separation, high religiosity, and low welfare state, and vice versa. We use this framework to explain the changing nature of religious movements, from Social Gospel to the Religious Right, and why church-state separation arose in the U.S. but not in many European countries.

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  • Chen, Daniel L. & Lind, Jo Thori, 2016. "The Political Economy of Beliefs: Why Fiscal and Social Conservatives/Liberals (Sometimes) Come Hand-in-Hand," IAST Working Papers 16-62, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:iastwp:31143
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    1. Chen Daniel L., 2019. "Law and Literature: Theory and Evidence on Empathy and Guile," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 15(1), pages 1-33, March.
    2. Hungerman, Daniel & Rinz, Kevin & Weninger, Tim & Yoon, Chungeun, 2018. "Political campaigns and church contributions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 403-426.
    3. Joan-Maria Esteban & Gilat Levy & Laura Mayoral, 2018. "Liberté, Égalité... Religiosité," Working Papers 1030, Barcelona School of Economics.
    4. Daniel M. Hungerman & Kevin Rinz & Jay Frymark, 2019. "Beyond the Classroom: The Implications of School Vouchers for Church Finances," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 588-601, October.
    5. Esteban, Joan & Levy, Gilat & Mayoral, Laura, 2018. "Liberté, égalité…religiosité," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 241-253.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voting; Religion; Ideology; Church-State Separation; Welfare State;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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