May 23, 2008

The Church vs. The Mall

Interesting pointer from The Economist's Free Exchange blog on a paper appearing in May's Quarterly Journal of Economics entitled "The Church vs. the Mall: What Happens When Religion Faces Increased Secular Competition?"
Opportunity cost applies to religion, as well, it seems. When the mall is open Sunday morning, there's more reason to skip church.  A second finding from the researchers is also interesting:
They considered the negative consequences for individuals or society from loosening secular constraints and they found those consequences in behaviors associated more with Saturday night than Sunday morning.

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) on consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs, the economists found that repealing the blue laws did lead to an increase in drinking and drug use.

What's more, they found that individuals who had attended church and stopped after the blue laws were repealed showed the greatest increase in substance abuse, Gruber notes.
Gated version here, earlier non-gated working paper here.

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