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CiteWeb id: 20160000087

CiteWeb score: 484

This study uses the economic concepts of household production and human capital to develop and test a new model of religious participation. The model explains observed patterns in denoniinational mobility, religious intermarriage, conversion ages, the relationships between church attendance and contributions, and the influence of upbringing and interfaith marriage on levels of religious participation. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND The past few decades have seen major progress in the social scientific study of religion. The body of data on religious behavior has grown immensely; the statistical techniques and computing power needed to analyze these data have grown even more. As a consequence, many of the basic facts of religious behavior have become known. Unfortunately, these empirical gains have not been matched by theoretical ones (Stark and Bainbridge 1987). If empirical research is to avoid diminishing returns, it must be based on conceptual models general enough to account for a range of related behaviors and precise enough to test meaningfully. The economic concepts of household production and human capital may provide the basis for such a model, one that explains observed patterns in denominational mobility, religious intermarriage, conversion ages, the relationship between church attendance and contributions, and the influence of upbringing and interfaith marriage on levels of religious participation. This paper (1) reviews how economists have used the concepts of household production and human capital; (2) introduces a model of religious practice based upon these concepts; (3) outlines the predictions that follow from the model; and (4) shows how the predictions were tested against observed behavior. The paper draws heavily from my

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