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Agricultural risk and the spread of religious communities

Philipp Ager () and Antonio Ciccone

Economics Working Papers from Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Abstract: Building on the idea that members of religious communities insure each other against some idiosyncratic risks, we argue that religious communities should be more widespread where populations face greater common risk. Our argument builds on idiosyncratic and common risks aggravating each other. This implies that individuals have a greater incentive to mutually insure against idiosyncratic risk when greater common risk makes the worst case scenario of bad realizations of common and idiosyncratic risks more likely. Our empirical analysis exploits rainfall risk as a source of common agricultural risk in the nineteenth-century United States. We show that a greater share of the population was organized in religious communities in counties with greater rainfall risk. The link between rainfall risk and membership in religious communities is stronger among more agricultural counties and counties exposed to greater rainfall risk during the growing season. We also find that among the historically more agricultural counties, more than 1/3 of nineteenth-century differences in religious membership associated with rainfall risk persist to the turn of the twenty-first century.

Keywords: Religious community membership; agricultural risk; informal insurance. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Z12 O13 N31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014-07, Revised 2016-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-evo, nep-his and nep-soc
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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Related works:
Journal Article: Agricultural Risk and the Spread of Religious Communities (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: Agricultural Risk and the Spread of Religious Communities (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: Rainfall Risk and Religious Membership in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States (2014) Downloads
Working Paper: Rainfall Risk and Religious Membership in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States (2014) Downloads
Working Paper: Rainfall Risk and Religious Membership in the Late Nineteenth-Century US (2013) Downloads
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