Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Uppsala University, Department of Economics

No 2017:4: Are Religions for Sale? Evidence from the Swedish Church Revolt over Same-Sex Marriage

Niklas Bengtsson ()
Additional contact information
Niklas Bengtsson: Department of Economics, Postal: Uppsala University, P.O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract: Religious leaders sometimes condemn progressive social norms. In this paper, I revisit David Hume’s hypothesis that secular states can “bribe” churches into adopting less strict religious doctrines. The hypothesis is difficult to test due to reverse causality: more liberal theologies may attract more political support in the first place. To circumvent this problem, I focus on a theological conflict over same-sex marriage within the Church of Sweden and take advantage of political regulations that effectively make some parishes shareholders of the church’s state-protected property. The shares used for statistical identification are tied to property rights assigned more than 300 years ago, and they cannot be sold, traded or amended by the individual parishes. I find that priests in shareholding parishes are less likely to publicly oppose same-sex marriage. The effect is stronger in parishes with more conservative members. The combined results are consistent with a model of clerical opportunism, in which access to political rents increases the clergy’s loyalty to the political sponsors relative to the local community.

Keywords: religious orthodoxy; same-sex marriage; subsidies; rent-seeking; religious market hypothesis

JEL-codes: H20; H30; Z12

29 pages, March 10, 2017

Full text files

FULLTEXT01.pdf PDF-file 

Download statistics

Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Katarina Grönvall ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ().

This page generated on 2018-01-23 23:39:23.