Friday, November 25

Fwd: is religion better for you?


We have spoken about religion quite often, well I have emailed to you :) not sure if you have read them but then that's what Baba's do, lecture to their kids. Dadu does that to me. I noticed he doesnt do that to you! :) but then the link between a grandfather and grandchild is different. Anyway

Here's a fascinating article, son.

Religious Market Structure, Religious Participation, and Outcomes: Is Religion Good for You?
Jonathan Gruber
NBER Working Paper No. 11377
Religion plays an important role in the lives of many Americans, but there is relatively little study by economists of the implications of religiosity for economic outcomes. This likely reflects the enormous difficulty inherent in separating the causal effects of religiosity from other factors that are correlated with outcomes. In this paper, I propose a potential solution to this long standing problem, by noting that a major determinant of religious participation is religious market density, or the share of the population in an area which is of an individual's religion. I make use of the fact that exogenous predictions of market density can be formed based on area ancestral mix. That is, I relate religious participation and economic outcomes to the correlation of the religious preference of one's own heritage with the religious preference of other heritages that share one's area. I use the General Social Survey (GSS) to model the impact of market density on church attendance, and micro-data from the 1990 Census to model the impact on economic outcomes. I find that a higher market density leads to a significantly increased level of religious participation, and as well to better outcomes according to several key economic indicators: higher levels of education and income, lower levels of welfare receipt and disability, higher levels of marriage, and lower levels of divorce.

You can read the article if/when you are free or interested. But this was a curious antidote to my usual comments about religion being a pain in the backside. It still is, but as you can see from this article, people who are religious and live next to each other in the same religion are better educated, richer, more married and presumably more happy. Now how do you square the circle? The way I see it, peer pressure is a big big thing, son. If the religion keeps on telling you that you have to obey god and then your group shows off its religiousity by doing well, then the group will self pressure each to be better. Note that in the article, its mainly jews and christians who are researched. I wonder what would have been the result if we had other religious groups involved? Then that would be funny, then we could say that if you are a christian and live in a christian area, then you are better off than a hindu or a muslim.

Still, stay away, son, you dont need peer pressure or God to tell you to be good and happy and be nice. End of :)



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