The Power of Religion

Research output: Working paperResearch

Why does religion play a central role in some societies? Rulers have historically used religion to legitimize their power, which incentivized them to embed religion into institutions. This institutionalization of religion thus may explain why religion persists despite modernization. Using data across 1265 premodern societies and 176 countries, we provide evidence supporting divine legitimization and the resulting institutionalization of religion. For identification, we exploit exogenous variation in the incentives to employ religion for power purposes. We document two implications: countries that relied more on divine legitimization are more autocratic today and their populace more religious.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesCEPR Discussion Paper Series

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - democracy, Divine Legitimization, High Gods, Institutionalization of Religion, Persistence of Religion, religion, Religiosity, Religious Laws, Religious Legitimization, Stratification

ID: 242612250