The Invisible Hand Plays Dice: Eventualities in Religious Markets
Religious participation is much more widespread in the United States than in Europe, while Europeans tend to view sects more suspiciously than Americans. We propose an explanation for these patterns without assuming differences in preferences or market fundamentals. Religious markets may have multiple equilibria, suggesting that observed differences in religious structures may merely be eventualities. Further, equilibria with more sects result in higher welfare and lower membership costs, as secular societies tend to host on average more demanding sects. Our main methodological contribution to the theory of religious markets is endogenizing simultaneously supply and demand of spiritual services.
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