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American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: Vol. 5 No. 3 (August 2013)

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Substitution and Stigma: Evidence on Religious Markets from the Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal

Article Citation

Hungerman, Daniel M. 2013. "Substitution and Stigma: Evidence on Religious Markets from the Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 5(3): 227-53.

DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.3.227

Abstract

This paper considers substitution between charitable activities in the context of religious practice by examining the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal's impact on both Catholic and non-Catholic religiosity. I find a fall in the Catholic population compensated by increases in non-Catholic participation and nonaffiliation. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest the scandal generated about $3 billion dollars in donations to non-Catholic faiths. Those leaving Catholicism frequently chose dissimilar alternatives: Baptist churches gained significantly while the Episcopal Church did not. These results challenge several theories of religiosity and suggest that policies or shocks specific to one religious group could have effects on other groups.

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Authors

Hungerman, Daniel M. (U Notre Dame)

JEL Classifications

D64: Altruism; Philanthropy
Z12: Cultural Economics: Religion

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