Thompson Rivers University

Professor Pyne explains religious choice using an afterlife capital model

May 6, 2013

Sippin tea, missin coffee; watchin footie… goodbye hockey

Crack The Heavens Professor Pyne is doing path breaking work on the economics of religious. This research extends his earlier work to study religious choice.  He explores the choices religious people make when there is a religious monopoly and when there are two religions which compete among themselves (duopolies).  The duopolies involve both exclusivist and non-exclusivist (pluralist) religions.  Some religions claim to offer exclusive access to a desirable afterlife (heaven) and if someone follows other religions it will lead to undesirable afterlife (hell) .  He finds that adopting the exclusivist doctrine, which is practiced by some religions, is a dominant strategy. This implies that religions face a prisoner’s dilemma when deciding between being exclusive or pluralist. Even though it would be beneficial for the religions to be pluralists collectively, it pays for one religion to “cheat” and follow the exclusivity doctrine. The other religion has no choice but to follow similarly the same doctrine. Furthermore, contrary to the existing literature, Professor Pyne finds that religious choice does not necessarily increase someones investment in religious activities (e.g., church attendance) and in some cases decreases it. His research has been accepted in the prestigious Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.

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