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American Economic Journal: Microeconomics: Vol. 4 No. 3 (August 2012)

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Religious Beliefs, Religious Participation, and Cooperation

Article Citation

Levy, Gilat, and Ronny Razin. 2012. "Religious Beliefs, Religious Participation, and Cooperation." American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 4(3): 121-51.

DOI: 10.1257/mic.4.3.121

Abstract

We analyze the relation between religious beliefs, religious participation, and social cooperation. We focus on religions that instill beliefs about the connection between rewards and punishments and social behavior. We show how religious organizations arise endogenously, and identify a "spiritual" as well as a "material" payoff for being religious. We show that religious groups that are more demanding in their rituals are smaller, more cohesive, and are composed of individuals with more "extreme" beliefs. We use our framework to analyze the response of beliefs and religious membership to correlated shocks in society, such as natural disasters or periods of prosperity. (JEL D12, D83, Z12, Z13)

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Authors

Levy, Gilat (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Razin, Ronny (London School of Economics and Political Science)

JEL Classifications

D12: Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
D83: Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief
Z12: Cultural Economics: Religion
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification

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