Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Beliefs and Actions

Divergent Effects of Beliefs in Heaven and Hell on National Crime Rates

Azim Shariff & Mijke Rhemtulla
PLoS ONE, June 2012

Though religion has been shown to have generally positive effects on normative ‘prosocial’ behavior, recent laboratory research suggests that these effects may be driven primarily by supernatural punishment. Supernatural benevolence, on the other hand, may actually be associated with less prosocial behavior. Here, we investigate these effects at the societal level, showing that the proportion of people who believe in hell negatively predicts national crime rates whereas belief in heaven predicts higher crime rates. These effects remain after accounting for a host of covariates, and ultimately prove stronger predictors of national crime rates than economic variables such as GDP and income inequality. Expanding on laboratory research on religious prosociality, this is the first study to tie religious beliefs to large-scale cross-national trends in pro- and anti-social behavior.


Support for Redistribution in Western Europe: Assessing the role of religion

Daniel Stegmueller et al.
European Sociological Review, August 2012, Pages 482-497

Previous sociological studies have paid little attention to religion as a central determinant of individual preferences for redistribution. In this article we argue that religious individuals, living in increasingly secular societies, differ in political preferences from their secular counterparts. Based on the theory of religious cleavages, we expect that religious individuals will oppose income redistribution by the state. Furthermore, in contexts where the polarization between religious and secular individuals is large, preferences for redistribution will be lower. In the empirical analysis we test our predictions in a multilevel framework, using data from the European Social Survey 2002–2006 for 16 Western European countries. After controlling for a wide range of individual socio-economic factors and for welfare-state policies, religion plays and important explanatory role. We find that both Catholics and Protestants strongly oppose income redistribution by the state. The cleavage between religious and secular individuals is far more important than the difference between denominations. Using a refined measure of religious polarization, we also find that in more polarized context the overall level of support for redistribution is lower.


Nod to Kevin Lewis for the references

1 comment:

Joel said...

great stuff - I ma using the crime piece in my fall crime policy course