Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 118: Rhetoric or Reality? An Economic Analysis of the Effects of Religion in Sweden

Niclas Berggren ()
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Niclas Berggren: Department of Economics, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, Box 6501, S-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: The present paper begins by outlining a theoretical, rational- choice approach to understanding how religious beliefs and affiliations might influence the behavior of individuals. This influence arises from an expectation that the god in question punishes certain forms of action and from social reprimands of devotees. In particular, four specific types of behavior are investigated: the divorce, abortion, non-payment, and children- born-out-of-wedlock rates. It is demonstrated why it is to be expected that Christian religious involvement discourages all of these activities. Regression analysis is then used to test the theory in the case of Sweden in the year 1990, and the importance of religion is strongly confirmed for all four types of behavior.

Keywords: Religion; rational choice; divorce; abortion; non-payment; children born out of wedlock

JEL-codes: A13; D10

27 pages, June 1996

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