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A Research Note on the Free-Rider Issue

Joseph B. Tamney and Stephen D. Johnson
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 36, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), pp. 104-108
DOI: 10.2307/1387886
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1387886
Page Count: 5
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A Research Note on the Free-Rider Issue
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Abstract

Iannaccone (1994) proposed that church success results from controlling the free-rider problem and that churches with few free-riders are more likely to provide collective rewards. Using a sample of "Middletown" residents (N = 567), we tested hypotheses derived from Iannaccone's theory. Our critical variable was respondents' estimates of the number of free-riders in their churches. We found some evidence consistent with the idea that church success is negatively related to the number of free-riders, but the results were not statistically significant; moreover Catholicism seems to have more free-riders than would be predicted by Iannaccone's theory. The number of free-riders was not related to two collective rewards measured in this study: the absence of noninvolved people at church services and participation in supportive church groups.

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