More than four out of five people on Earth profess a belief in God. This covers large differences across the globe. In Denmark, only 28% believe in God, but in Algeria and Pakistan 100% do. At the same time, there are vast differences across the globe in terms of income, education, and conflict, to name but a few factors.
The novel concept of Shocking Religion is to combine macroeconomics with religious studies to determine the roots of such societal differences. Our hypothesis is that the intensity of people’s religious beliefs, i.e. religiosity, influences their actions, in turn impacting society as a whole. Shocking Religion will determine whether differences in religiosity can explain an essential part of global differences in four main socio-economic outcomes: Education, income, gender roles, and productivity.
Why are some societies more educated, richer, or more productive? Shocking Religion will use econometric techniques on a topic that draws on religious studies.
We will be the first to test whether differences in religiosity can explain an important part of global economic inequalities. We focus on religiosity, i.e. the strength of peoples’ faith, rather than their type of religion.
To identify the causal impact of religiosity, we will
1) exploit natural experiments - such as earthquakes or COVID-19 - that exogenously increase religiosity for some, and
2) construct data on religiosity that varies within countries and within religious denominations.
This will allow us to a) avoid comparing religiosity across different religions and countries, b) account for a rich set of confounders that also influence socioeconomic outcomes, and c) test whether the results generalize across diverse societies and religions. Combined, the knowledge gained will enhance our understanding of inequality.
WP1: Religious texts and society
WP1 tests the theory that today’s major religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism) emerged in a past with vastly different values to today. These values are reflected in the religious texts and institutions, which preserved them to modern times. Traditional gender roles is one value that may have been preserved in religious texts and institutions.
WP2: Oceanic dangers and religion
Some areas of the globe are not exposed to large natural disasters. We will use alternative shocks to investigate the impact of religiosity on outcomes in these areas. One such shock is the dangers of the ocean.
WP3: Religion Lectures
The project team will launch a series of biannual lectures on religion, where top international scholars are invited to give lectures on the methods used to study religion in their respective field, followed by discussions with team members. The purpose is to strengthen the Economics of Religion field by establishing a strong international network with epi-centre in our research group in Denmark.
|Jeanet Sinding Bentzen||Associate Professor - Promotion Programme|