This conference is supported by John Templeton Foundation
Zussman studies how politically-motivated violence associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects religiosity among Jews and Muslims in Israel. Using data from comprehensive social surveys and relying on geographical and temporal variation in violence intensity to identify causal effects, this analysis yields robust evidence that violence makes both Jews and Muslims self-identify as more religious. Based on analysis of data from other surveys, Zussman argues that via its effects on religiosity, politically motivated violence may adversely influence Arab-Jewish relations inside Israel and the prospects of peace between Israel and its neighbors.
Recent studies analyzing the effects of religion on various economic, social, health, and political outcomes have been largely associational. Although some of these studies attempt to establish causation using the instrument variable (IV) method, the instrument they use---a county- level measure of religious market density---may be problematic. Moreover, the focus of most of the studies has been on religious rites and rituals -- that is, religious participation, or the intensity of participation. During one's adolescent years, religious participation might be a matter of limited choice for many individuals, as it is often heavily reliant on parents and on family background more generally. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Kumar and Fletcher analyze the effect of a broad set of measures of religiosity on substance use at different stages of the life course. In contrast to previous studies, this one finds positive effects of religion on avoiding all addictive substances during adolescence, but not in a consistent fashion during the later years for any other illicit drugs, except for crystal meth and marijuana.
Does law shape values? Chen and Yeh test a model of law and norms in an area of the law with emotional salience and controversy. Analyzing the random assignment of U.S. federal judges, they construct a sparse model for estimating treatment effects with high dimensional instruments. They find that Democratic appointees are 10 percent more likely to favor permissive obscenity standards. Given this variation, they estimate that progressive obscenity standards increase progressive sexual attitudes, non-marital sexual behavior especially by men, arrests for prostitution, rape, and drug violations, and the incidence of invisible STDs. To corroborate a causal channel, they conduct a field experiment, assigning workers to transcribe obscenity news reports. They find that exposure to progressive obscenity decisions leads to more progressive sexual attitudes, but not to self-reported sexual behavior. A second field experiment documents that exposure to conservative obscenity decisions leads to beliefs that extramarital sex is more prevalent. The shift in norm perception verifies a key assumption in the model, which predicts when law has backlash or expressive effects.
For over a century, social scientists have debated how educational attainment affects religious belief. Hungerman uses Canadian compulsory schooling laws to identify the relationship between completed schooling and later religiosity. He finds that higher levels of education lead to lower levels of religious affiliation later in life. An additional year of education leads to a 4-percentage-point decline in the likelihood that an individual identifies with any religious tradition. Extrapolating the results to the broader population would suggest that increases in schooling can explain most of the large rise in non-affiliation in Canada in recent decades.
Managing a firm in the master-planned economy of East Germany differed significantly from doing so in the free market economy of West Germany, at least in part, because Eastern social planners explicitly worked to remove the variability of the free market from their economy. Triebs and Tumlinson examine the lingering role of communism on the way former East German businesses forecast their future business performance. They pay special attention to how East German firms respond differently to market signals than their West German counterparts. It required nearly two decades for Eastern understanding of the market's role on productivity to converge to Western levels.
The Catholic sex abuse scandals reduced both membership and religiosity in the Catholic Church. Because government spending on welfare may substitute for the religious provision of social services, Dills and Hernandez-Julian consider whether this plausibly exogenous decline in religiosity affected several measures of the public taste towards government spending on welfare between 1990 and 2008. In places where more scandals occurred, individuals state a preference for less government provision of social services. In contrast, a higher level of abuse also is associated with an increase in voting for Democratic presidential candidates and an increase in per capita government welfare spending, although that increase is not sufficient to replace the decrease in Catholic-provided charity.
In addition to the conference paper, the research was distributed as NBER Working Paper w19169, which may be a more recent version.
Religion and Risky Health Behaviors among U.S. Adolescents and Adults
Learning Capitalism the Hard Way--Evidence from German Reunification
"Unfinished Business": Ethnic Complementarities and the Political Contagion of Peace and Conflict in Gujarat
Religion, Politician Identity and Development Outcomes: Evidence from India
Religiosity and State Welfare