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THE RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE OF RAMADAN AND PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR

Ernan E. Haruvy, Christos Ioannou and Farnoush Golshirazi

Economic Inquiry, 2018, vol. 56, issue 1, 226-237

Abstract: We investigate experimentally the impact on prosocial behavior of the religious observance of Ramadan. Our sample consists of male factory workers in a manufacturing facility in a Muslim country. In our between‐subjects' design, each worker is asked to allocate an amount of money between himself and a stranger. Specifically, we examine behavior of observants and nonobservants before and after the daily break of the Ramadan fast. We also examine behavior outside of Ramadan, where we treat alimentary abstention as akin to a long fasting period. We hypothesize and confirm that outside Ramadan, decision makers who abstain from any alimentary intake transfer less money to recipients relative to decision makers who do not abstain. Strikingly, this effect is reversed during the month of Ramadan. Specifically, observant workers who are in the midst of their Ramadan fast are far more generous to recipients than workers who have had their evening meal. Interestingly, observant and nonobservant workers after the daily break of the Ramadan fast and workers outside Ramadan that consumed aliments make statistically similar transfers. Our findings suggest that it is the interaction between alimentary abstention and religious observance that amplifies prosocial behavior during Ramadan, where fasting is part of the ritual. (JEL C91, C93, C72)

Date: 2018
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