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Can religious institutions promote sustainable behavior? Field experimental evidence on donations towards a carbon-offsetting fund


  • Feldhaus, Christoph
  • Gleue, Marvin
  • Löschel, Andreas


We conduct a field experiment with the visitors of the German Catholic Convention in Münster, Germany. We aim at investigating the effect of the announced attitude of a Catholic institution concerning climate protection efforts, of people's experimentally induced religiosity (using a priming intervention) and of the corresponding interaction on people's willingness to donate to a carbon-offsetting fund. Our results suggest that the supporting signal by the Catholic institution substantially increases donations by about 56 %. We observe neither a direct effect of the induced religiosity nor an interaction with the institution's signal. Our results thus indicate that religious authorities can promote sustainable behavior. As we observe no evidence that the signalmainly influences particularly religious people, we further conclude that religious institutions may serve as more general authorities when it comes to sustainable behavior rather than solely as leaders of those aiming to follow religious prescripts.

Suggested Citation

  • Feldhaus, Christoph & Gleue, Marvin & Löschel, Andreas, 2019. "Can religious institutions promote sustainable behavior? Field experimental evidence on donations towards a carbon-offsetting fund," CAWM Discussion Papers 108, University of Münster, Center of Applied Economic Research Münster (CAWM).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cawmdp:108

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    Sustainable behavior; Field experiment; Religiosity; Priming; Carbon offsets;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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