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SECULARIZATION AND LONG-RUN ECONOMIC GROWTH

Holger Strulik ()

Economic Inquiry, 2016, vol. 54, issue 1, 177-200

Abstract: type="main" xml:id="ecin12242-abs-0001"> This paper integrates a simple theory of identity choice into a framework of endogenous economic growth to explain how secularization can be both cause and consequence of economic development. A secular identity allows an individual to derive more pleasure from consumption than religious individuals, leading secular individuals to work harder and to save more in order to experience this pleasure from consumption. These activities are conducive to economic growth. Higher income makes consumption more affordable and increases the appeal of a secular identity for the next generation. An extension of the basic model investigates the Protestant Reformation as an intermediate stage during the take-off to growth. Another extension introduces intergenerationally dependent religious preferences and demonstrates how a social multiplier amplifies the speed of secularization. (JEL N30, O10, O40, Z12, Z13)

Date: 2016
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