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Randomizing Religion: The Impact of Protestant Evangelism on Economic Outcomes (WP-18-08)

Gharad Bryan, James Choi, and Dean Karlan

To test the causal impact of religiosity, the researchers conducted a randomized evaluation of an evangelical Protestant Christian values and theology education program that consisted of 15 weekly half-hour sessions. They analyze outcomes for 6,276 ultra-poor Filipino households six months after the program ended. They find significant increases in religiosity and income, no significant changes in total labor supply, assets, consumption, food security, or life satisfaction, and a significant decrease in perceived relative economic status. Exploratory analysis suggests the program may have improved hygienic practices and increased household discord, and that the income treatment effect may operate through increasing grit.

Gharad Bryan, Lecturer in Economics, London School of Economics

James Choi, Professor of Finance, Yale University

Dean Karlan, Frederic Esser Nemmers Chair and Professor of Finance and Economics, IPR Associate, and Co-Director of the Global Poverty Research Lab at the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, Northwestern University 

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