Culture: Persistence and evolution

Francesco Giavazzi, Ivan Petkov, Fabio Schiantarelli 16 June 2014

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Are a person’s values and beliefs persistent, or do they evolve – possibly rather quickly – in response to the economic and institutional environment? This is a central question, for instance, if one is interested in assessing the likelihood of success of reforms that change rules within a country. Are such reforms doomed because a country’s culture cannot be changed, or can they succeed because they can change cultural attitudes by altering incentives, and if so, over what time horizon?

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Topics:  Frontiers of economic research Institutions and economics Migration

Tags:  US, immigration, religion, values, Culture, attitudes, beliefs

Newspaper readership, civic attitudes, and economic development: Evidence from the history of African media

Julia Cagé, Valeria Rueda 14 May 2014

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Poor governance due to lack of political accountability is often cited as an explanation for the low level of economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. Lack of political accountability can emerge when voters do not choose their candidates according to their expected performance. In sub-Saharan Africa, voters often use the ethnic profile of a candidate as an informational shortcut for the candidate’s political agenda (Ichino and Nathan 2013). As a consequence, politicians rely on tribal allegiances that deliver the votes of co-ethnics irrespective of performance (Casey 2013).

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Topics:  Development Economic history Institutions and economics Politics and economics

Tags:  development, democracy, Africa, religion, technology, media, voting, accountability

Religion matters, in life and death

Sascha O Becker, Ludger Woessmann 15 January 2012

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As early as 1897, French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1897) in his classic Le suicide presented aggregate indicators suggesting that Protestantism was a leading correlate of suicide incidence. The proposition that Protestants have higher suicide rates than Catholics has been “accepted widely enough for nomination as sociology’s one law” (Pope and Danigelis 1981).

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Topics:  Economic history Frontiers of economic research Politics and economics

Tags:  religion, suicide

Institutions, religion, and the rise of Europe vis-à-vis the Middle East: A long-run reversal of fortunes

Jared Rubin 22 December 2011

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By almost any available economic measure, the Middle East, China, and India were ahead of Europe one thousand years ago. Their science and technology were more advanced than in Europe, their trade flowed in higher volumes and over longer distances, and they employed more complicated financial instruments to facilitate trade. Yet as early as the 17th century Western Europe was clearly on a path to dominate much of the rest of the world economically, technologically, and militarily – eventually colonising much of the world’s land mass.

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Topics:  Development

Tags:  religion, interest restriction

Religion makes people happy, so why is church attendance declining?

Bruno S Frey, Jana Gallus 02 October 2011

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Modern happiness research leaves no doubt that religious people are happier than their contemporaries. And the causality runs from religion to happiness (though it might also be possible that religious people are less interested in material aspects and, therefore, less affluent).

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Topics:  Frontiers of economic research

Tags:  religion, welfare, life satisfaction, happiness research, churches

On the origin of the family

Marco Francesconi, Christian Ghiglino, Motty Perry 11 February 2010

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Why do humans live in families? The fact that only 3% of avian and mammal species are known to be familial suggests that the emergence of the family cannot be taken for granted, even among humans (Emlen 1995). Divorce is a common feature of modern life and non-traditional family structures are growing more common.

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Topics:  Frontiers of economic research

Tags:  religion, family, fidelity

AIDS prevention: Abstinence vs. risk reduction

Esther Duflo 20 April 2009

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On his first visit to Africa, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated that the distribution of condoms by health authorities won’t resolve the AIDS epidemic in Africa, adding that “on the contrary, it increases the problem.”

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Topics:  Development Health economics

Tags:  Africa, religion, AIDS, randomised experiment, condoms, abstinence

The opiate of the elites

Andrew Gelman, David Park, Boris Shor, Jeronimo Cortina 21 April 2008

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Barack Obama attracted attention recently by describing small-town Americans who were “bitter” at economic prospects who “cling to guns or religion’’ in frustration. This statement, made during the height of the Democratic nomination battle, has received a lot of attention, but it represents a common view.

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Topics:  Politics and economics

Tags:  US, religion, voting, social class, conservative parties, Democrats, Republicans

Religion influences people's decision to become an entrepreneur

David B Audretsch, Werner Bönte, Jagannadha Pawan Tamvada ,

Date Published

Mon, 07/09/2007

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Although a number of economists have argued that religion plays a fundamental role in shaping economics, only scant attention has recently been given as to how and why religion might act as a determinant of economic activity. It has been suggested that values and attitudes are as much a part of the economy as institutions and policies are. In addition, empirical findings raise several important but unanswered questions: (1) What are the channels by which religion influences economics and (2) Are the impacts on economic activity the same across all religions?

Journalists are entitled to free DP downloads on request; please contact pressoffice@cepr.org. To learn more about subscribing to CEPR's Discussion Paper Series, please visit the CEPR website.

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