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An economic theory of church strictness

  • Nuno Garoupa
  • Pedro Pita Barros

This paper makes several contributions to the growing literature on the economics of religion. First, we explicitly introduce spatial- location models into the economics of religion. Second, we offer a new explanation for the observed tendency of state (monopoly) churches to locate toward the "low-tension" end of the "strictness continuum" (in a one-dimensional product space): This result is obtained through the conjunction of "benevolent preferences" (denominations care about the aggregate utility of members) and asymmetric costs of going to a more or less strict church than one prefers. We also derive implications regarding the relationship between religious strictness and membership. The driving forces of our analysis, religious market interactions and asymmetric costs of membership, high-light new explanations for some well-established stylized facts. The analysis opens the way to new empirical tests, aimed at confronting the implications of our model against more traditional explanations.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 563.

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Date of creation: Aug 2001
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:563
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  1. Sullivan, Dennis H, 1985. "Simultaneous Determination of Church Contributions and Church Attendance," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(2), pages 309-20, April.
  2. Montgomery, James D, 1996. "Contemplations on the Economic Approach to Religious Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 443-47, May.
  3. Brooks Hull & Frederick Bold, 1998. "Product Variety in Religious Markets," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(1), pages 1-19.
  4. Dieter Schmidtchen & Achim Mayer, 1997. "Established Clergy, Friars and the Pope: Some Institutional Economics of the Medieval Church," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(1), pages 122-, March.
  5. Nilssen, Tore, 1997. "Sequential location when transportation costs are asymmetric," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 191-201, February.
  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 271-91, April.
  7. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
  8. Azzi, Corry & Ehrenberg, Ronald G, 1975. "Household Allocation of Time and Church Attendance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(1), pages 27-56, February.
  9. Nilssen, T. & Sorgard, L., 1998. "A Public Firm Challenged by Entry: Duplication of Diversity?," Papers 13/98, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
  10. Ehrenberg, Ronald G, 1977. "Household Allocation of Time and Religiosity: Replication and Extension," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(2), pages 415-23, April.
  11. Alberto Cassone & Carla Marchese, 1999. "The Economics of Religious Indulgences," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(3), pages 429-, September.
  12. Davidson, Audrey B. & Ekelund, Robert Jr., 1997. "The medieval church and rents from marriage market regulations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 215-245, February.
  13. Lipford, Jody & McCormick, Robert E. & Tollison, Robert D., 1993. "Preaching matters," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 235-250, August.
  14. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1995. "Risk, Rationality, and Religious Portfolios," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(2), pages 285-95, April.
  15. Ekelund, Robert Jr. & Hebert, Robert F. & Tollison, Robert D., 1992. "The economics of sin and redemption : Purgatory as a market-pull innovation?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 1-15, September.
  16. Ekelund, Robert B. & Hebert, Robert F. & Tollison, Robert D. & Anderson, Gary M. & Davidson, Audrey B., 1997. "Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195103373, July.
  17. Ekelund, Robert B, Jr & Hebert, Robert F & Tollison, Robert D, 1989. "An Economic Model of the Medieval Church: Usury as a Form of Rent Seeking," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 307-31, Fall.
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