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Pornography, Religion, and the Happiness Gap: Does Pornography Impact the Actively Religious Differently?


Joseph Price, Brigham Young University, Department of Economics, 162 FOB, Provo, UT 84663. E-mail:


Club good models developed by economists suggest that the club provides a benefit to members by fostering the provision of semi-public goods. In the case of religion, churches create enforcement mechanisms to reduce free riding. Consequently, the psychic costs of deviant activity should be higher for individuals who belong to religious groups with strong social norms. Data from the General Social Survey are used to examine whether the cost of using pornography is greater for the more religiously involved. We measure the cost of using pornography as the happiness gap or the gap between the average happiness reported by individuals who do and individuals who do not report using pornography. The happiness gap is larger for individuals who regularly attend church and who belong to religious groups with strong attitudes against pornography.