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Examining the link between the bitterness of lost jobs and clinging to religion: Evidence from Chinese import shocks
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CitationCesur, R., Yıldırım, S. (2018). Examining the link between the bitterness of lost jobs and clinging to religion: Evidence from Chinese import shocks. Association for the study of religion, economics, and culture seventeenth annual conference (ASREC 17th), 23-24 March 2018, Chapman University - Orange, CA, USA.
While prolonged debates exist pertaining to the relationship between labor market conditions and religion, there is little empirical work examining the causal effect of structural changes in employment conditions on religion. We use trade shocks to manufacturing industries stemming from Chinese imports as the source of exogenous variation to test whether a structural change in local labor market conditions has an impact on the supply of the place of worship and religious participation. Using US Church Membership Data over the period 1990 to 2010, we find that Chinese import shocks: (i) led to a reduction in the number of churches; (ii) and caused an increase in the number of religious adherents at the local labor market level. These results suggest that while negative income shocks lower the supply of religious venues, the bitterness of lost jobs seem to induce communities to cling to religion.