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Religiosity and long-run productivity growth

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  • Herzer, Dierk
  • Strulik, Holger

Abstract

In this paper, we show, using a panel of developed countries, that there is a long-run negative association between church attendance and total factor productivity (TFP) with predictive causality running from declining church attendance to increasing factor productivity. According to our preferred estimate, about 18% of the increase in TFP from 1950 to 1990 is caused by declining religiosity. In order to explain this phenomenon, we integrate into standard R&D-based growth theory a micro-foundation of individual cognitive style, which is either intuitive-believing or reflective-analytical. Under the assumption that R&D productivity is positively influenced by a reflectiveanalytical cognitive style, we find that secularization leads to an increasing labor share in R&D and gradually increasing productivity growth. We use these insights to reflect on trends in religiosity and R&D-based growth in the very long run, from Enlightenment to the present day.

Suggested Citation

  • Herzer, Dierk & Strulik, Holger, 2016. "Religiosity and long-run productivity growth," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 284, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:284
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    religiosity; church attendance; factor productivity; cognitive style; R&D-based growth;

    JEL classification:

    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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