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Skewness Explained: A Rational Choice Model of Religious Giving

Laurence R. Iannaccone
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 36, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 141-157
DOI: 10.2307/1387549
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1387549
Page Count: 17
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Skewness Explained: A Rational Choice Model of Religious Giving
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Abstract

This paper explores the determinants of religious giving through simulations, economic theory, and survey data. Skewness, a distinctive yet poorly understood feature of religious giving, proves to be an inevitable consequence of the weak correlation between absolute levels of income and percentage rates of giving. The weak correlation can be derived, in turn, from a formal, rational choice model of religious participation. Data from the General Social Surveys show that this model also accounts for many other observed patterns in giving and church attendance.

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