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Did the Devil Make Them Do It? The Effects of Religion in Public Goods and Trust Games

Authors

  • Lisa Anderson,

    1. Department of Economics; College of William and Mary; P.O. Box 8795 Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
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  • Jennifer Mellor,

    1. Department of Economics; College of William and Mary; P.O. Box 8795 Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
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  • Jeffrey Milyo

    1. Department of Economics; 118 Professional Building; University of Missouri; Columbia, MO 65211
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    • *Lisa Anderson, Professor; Department of Economics; College of William and Mary; P.O. Box 8795 Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795; Email: lisa.anderson@wm.edu. Jennifer Mellor, Associate Professor; Department of Economics; College of William and Mary; P.O. Box 8795; Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795; Email: jmmell@wm.edu. Jeffrey Milyo, Professor (corresponding author); Department of Economics; 118 Professional Building; University of Missouri; Columbia, MO 65211; milyoj@missouri.edu.


SUMMARY

We examine the extent to which religious affiliation and participation are associated with other-regarding behavior in canonical public goods and bi-lateral trust games. In general, religious affiliation is unrelated to behavior in these experiments; further, there is only weak evidence that attendance at religious services is correlated with behavior in these games. Contrary to popular wisdom and several recent observational studies, religion is not strongly associated with increased cooperation and trust in our controlled experiments.

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