Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

CAFO Working Papers,
Linnaeus University, Centre for Labour Market Policy Research (CAFO), School of Business and Economics

No 2008:1: IS THE HAND OF GOD INVOLVED IN HUMAN COOPERATION?AN EXPERIMENTAL EXAMINATION OF THE SUPERNATURAL PUNISHMENT THEORY

Ali M. Ahmed () and Osvaldo Salas ()
Additional contact information
Ali M. Ahmed: Centre for Labour Market Policy Research (CAFO), Postal: Centre for Labour Market Policy Research (CAFO), Dept of Economics and Statistics, School of Management and Economics, Växjö University , SE 351 95 Växjö, Sweden
Osvaldo Salas: Centre for Labour Market Policy Research (CAFO), Postal: Centre for Labour Market Policy Research (CAFO), Dept of Economics and Statistics, School of Management and Economics, Växjö University , SE 351 95 Växjö, Sweden

Abstract: This paper examines the supernatural punishment theory. The theory postulates that religion increases cooperation because religious people fear the retributions that may follow if they do not follow the rules and norms provided by the religion. We report results for a public goods experiment conducted in India, Mexico, and Sweden. By asking participants whether they are religious or not, we study whether religiosity has an effect on voluntary cooperation in the public goods game. We found no significant behavioral differences between religious and nonreligious participants in the experiment.

Keywords: Games; punishment theory; experiments; behavioral economics; religion

JEL-codes: C71; C90; D01

24 pages, February 1, 2008

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