Skip to main content Accesibility Help
×
×
Home

Does Church Attendance Cause People to Vote? Using Blue Laws’ Repeal to Estimate the Effect of Religiosity on Voter Turnout

  • Alan S. Gerber, Jonathan Gruber and Daniel M. Hungerman
Abstract

Regular church attendance is strongly associated with a higher probability of voting. It is an open question as to whether this association, which has been confirmed in numerous surveys, is causal. The repeal of the laws restricting Sunday retail activity (‘blue laws’) is used to measure the effects of church-going on political participation. Blue laws’ repeal caused a 5 percent decrease in church attendance. Its effect on political participation was measured and it was found that, following the repeal, turnout fell by approximately 1 percentage point. This decline in turnout is consistent with the large effect of church attendance on turnout reported in the literature, and suggests that church attendance may have a significant causal effect on voter turnout.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Does Church Attendance Cause People to Vote? Using Blue Laws’ Repeal to Estimate the Effect of Religiosity on Voter Turnout
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Does Church Attendance Cause People to Vote? Using Blue Laws’ Repeal to Estimate the Effect of Religiosity on Voter Turnout
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Does Church Attendance Cause People to Vote? Using Blue Laws’ Repeal to Estimate the Effect of Religiosity on Voter Turnout
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Department of Political Science, Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.; Department of Economics, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind. (emails: alan.gerber@yale.edu; gruberj@mit.edu; dhungerm@nd.edu). The authors thank Gabriel Durazo for excellent research assistance in collecting the blue laws data, Shang Ha for other research assistance, and also Tracy Liu. They are grateful to James Snyder, who supplied the election data. This work was supported by the Metanexus Institute and the Yale University Institution for Social and Policy Studies and was previously circulated as NBER Working Paper #14303. Replication data are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi: 10.1017/S0007123414000416.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Alex-Assensoh, Yvette, and Assensoh, A. B.. 2001. Inner City Contexts, Church Attendance and African American Political Participation. Journal of Politics 63:886901.
Andreoni, James. 2006. Philanthropy. Pp. 12011269 in Handbook of the Economics of Giving, Altruism, and Reciprocity, edited by Serge-Christophe Kolm and Jean Mercier Ythier. Amsterdam: Elsevier/North-Holland.
Associated Press. 1984a. Columbia, S.C., arrests 5 for defying blue laws. New York Times, 25 December, Section 1, p. 8.
Associated Press. 1984b. Columbia merchant spends night in jail for Sunday opening. Herald Journal, 25 December.
Attlesley, Sam. 1985. Blue law opposition mounting: Lewis predicts House will vote for Repeal. Dallas Morning News, 1 May.
Bachman, Jerald, O’Malley, Patrick, Schulenberg, John, Johnston, Lloyd, Bryant, Alison, and Merline, Alicia. 2002. The Decline in Substance Use in Young Adulthood: Changes in Social Activities, Roles, and Beliefs. Mahway, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Barmash, Isadore. 1986. Sunday shopping: A way of life for millions. New York Times, 19 October, p. 2.
Bertrand, M., Duflo, E., and Mullainathan, S.. 2004. How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates? Quarterly Journal of Economics 119:249275.
Brady, Henry E., Schlozman, Ken Lehman, Verba, Sidney, and Luks, Samantha. 2008. Participatory Inequality, Income Inequality and the Role of Churches and Unions – From the 1950s to the 2000s. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago.
Campbell, David E. 2004. Acts of Faith: Churches and Political Engagement. Political Behavior 26:155179.
Cialdini, Robert B., and Goldstein, Noah J.. 2004. Social Influence: Compliance and Conformity. Annual Review of Psychology 55:591621.
Cialdini, Robert B., and Trost, Melanie R.. 1998. Social Influence: Social Norms, Conformity, and Compliance. Pp. 151192 in The Handbook of Social Psychology, 4th edn, edited by Daniel T.Gilbert, Susan T. Fiske, and Gardner Lindzey. Boston, Mass.: McGraw-Hill.
Coyne, Tom. 1986. Blue law repeal profitable. Sumter Daily Item 7 May.
Dee, Thomas. 2004. Are There Civic Returns to Education? Journal of Public Economics 8:16971720.
Driskell, Robyn, Embry, Elizabeth, and Lyon, Larry. 2008. Faith and Politics: The Influence of Religious Beliefs on Political Participation. Social Science Quarterly 89:294314.
Ellison, Christopher G. 1991. Religious Involvement and Well-Being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 32:8099.
Evans, T. David, Cullen, Francis T., Dunaway, R. Gregory, and Burton, Velma S.. 1995. Religion and Crime Reexamined: The Impact of Religion, Secular Controls, and Social Ecology on Adult Criminality. Criminology 33:195224.
Ferris, J. Stephen. 1991. On the Economics of Regulated Early Closing Hours: Some Evidence from Canada. Applied Economics 23:13931400.
Gerber, Alan S., and Green, Donald P.. 2000. The Effects of Canvassing, Telephone Calls, and Direct Mail on Voter Turnout: A Field Experiment. American Political Science Review 94:653663.
Gerber, Alan S., Green, Donald P., and Larimer, Chris. 2008. Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment. American Political Science Review 102:3348.
Goos, M. 2005. The Impact of Shop Closing Hours on Labor and Product Markets. Working paper, London School of Economics and Political Science.
Gradus, Raymond. 1996. The Economic Effects of Extending Shop Opening Hours. Journal of Economics 64:247263.
Green, Donald P., and Gerber, Alan S.. 2008. Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout, 2nd edn. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Green, John C., Rozell, Mark J., and Wilcox, Clyde. 2001. Social Movements and Party Politics: The Case of the Christian Right. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 40:413426.
Gruber, Jon, and Hungerman, Daniel M.. 2008. The Church vs. the Mall: What Happens When Religion Faces Increased Secular Competition? Quarterly Journal of Economics 123:831862.
Gruber, Jonathan, and Mullainathan, Sendhil. 2002. Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier? Working Paper No. 8872, Cambridge, Mass., NBER.
Guth, James L., Kellstedt, Lyman A., Green, John C., and Smidt, Corwin E.. 2002. A Distant Thunder? Religious Mobilization in 2000 Elections. Pp. 161184 in Interest Group Politics, 6th edn, edited by Allan J. Ciglar and Burdett A. Loomis. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Hansard, Donna. 1985. Retailers to follow crowds. Dallas Morning News, 5 May, p. H1.
Hanusheck, Eric, Rivkin, Steven, and Taylor, Lori. 1996. Aggregation and the Estimated Effects of School Resources. Review of Economics and Statistics 78:611627.
Harris, Fredrick C. 1994. Something Within: Religion as a Mobilizer of African American Political Activism. Journal of Politics 99:4268.
Hout, Michael, and Greeley, Andrew. 2003. Religion and Happiness in the United States, Survey Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, mimeo.
Huckfeldt, Robert, and Sprague, John. 1993. Citizens, Context, and Politics. Pp. 281303 in The State of the Discipline II, edited by Ada W.Finifter. Washington, D.C.: American Political Science Association.
Hull, Brooks B., and Bold, Frederick. 1995. Preaching Matters: Replication and Extension. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 27:143149.
Hummer, Robert A., Rogers, Richard G., Nam, Charles B., and Ellison, Christopher G.. 1999. Religious Involvement and U.S. Adult Mortality. Demography 36:273285.
Iannaccone, Laurence. 1998. Introduction to the Economics of Religion. Journal of Economic Literature 36:14651495.
Jacobsen, Joyce, and Kooreman, Peter. 2005. Timing Constraints and the Allocation of Time: The Effects of Changing Shopping Hours Regulations in the Netherlands. European Economic Review 49:927.
Jamal, Amaney. 2005. The Political Participation and Engagement of Muslim Americans Mosque Involvement and Group Consciousness. American Politics Research 33:521544.
Johnson, Byron R., Li, Spencer De, Larson, David B., and McCullough, Mike. 2000. A Systematic Review of the Religiosity and Delinquency Literature: A Research Note. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 16:3252.
Jones-Correa, Michael A., and Leal, David L.. 2001. Political Participation: Does Religion Matter? Political Research Quarterly 54:751770.
King, Wayne. 1985. TV moms and chicken dinners employed in blue-law battle. New York Times, 14 May, p. A16.
Laband, David N., and Heinbuch, Deborah H.. 1987. Blue Laws. Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books.
Lehrer, Evelyn L., and Chiswick, Carmel U.. 1993. Religion as a Determinant of Marital Stability. Demography 30:385404.
Levin, Jeffrey S., and Vanderpool, Harold Y.. 1987. Is Frequent Religious Attendance Really Conducive to Better Health? Toward an Epidemiology of Religion. Social Science and Medicine 24:589600.
Lipford, Jody, McCorkmick, Robert E., and Tollison, Robert D.. 1993. Preaching Matters. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 21:235250.
Lynch, James F. 1978. Open door policy? Never on Sunday. New York Times, 10 December, p. NJ2.
McDonald, Michael P., and Popkin, Samuel. 2001. The Myth of the Vanishing Voter. American Political Science Review 95:963974.
McGee, K. 1991. North Dakota sends blue laws packing. USA Today, 11 February, p. A6.
Merry, G. 1983. Over clergy’s protests, many states repealing Sunday closing laws. Christian Science Monitor, 22 March, p. 6.
Milligan, Kevin, Moretti, Enrico, and Oreopoulos, Philip. 2004. Does Education Improve Citizenship? Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom. Journal of Public Economics 88:16671695.
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. 2001. So Help Me God: Substance Abuse, Religion and Spirituality. New York: Columbia University.
New York Times . 1970. ‘Day of Rest Act’ repealed in Utah. New York Times, 17 May, p. 90.
Norris, Pippa, and Inglehart, Ronald. 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Peterson, Steven A. 1992. Church Participation and Political Participation: The Spillover Effect. American Politics Quarterly 20:123139.
Price, J., and Yandle, B.. 1987. Labor Markets and Sunday Closing Laws. Journal of Labor Research 4:407414.
Putnam, Robert D. 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Reed, David. 1985. Columbia merchant vows to protest blue laws by opening on Easter. Sumter Daily Item, 23 March.
Rosenstone, Steven J., and Hansen, John M.. 1993. Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. New York: Macmillan.
Scheff, Thomas J. 2000. Shame and the Social Bond: A Sociological Theory. Sociological Theory 18:8499.
Toqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America . 2000. Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop, trans., ed.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Smidt, Corwin E., den Dulk, Kevin R., Penning, James M., Monsma, Stephen V., and Koopman, Douglas L.. 2008. Pews, Prayer, and Participation: Religion and Civic Responsibility in America. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
Tanguay, George, Vallée, Luc, and Lanoie, Paul. 1995. Shopping Hours and Price Levels in the Retailing Industry: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis. Economic Inquiry 33:516524.
Theuman, John E. 2005. Validity, Construction, and Effect of ‘Sunday Closing’ or ‘Blue’ Laws – Modern Status. American Law Reports, A.L.R. 4 th 246332.
Verba, Sidney, Schlozman, Kay Lehman, and Brady, Henry. 1995. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Wald, Kenneth D. 1992. Religion and Politics in the United States, 2nd edn. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press.
Wald, Kenneth D., Owen, Dennis E., and Hill, Samuel S. Jr. 1988. Churches as Political Communities. American Political Science Review 82:531548.
Wald, Kenneth D., Kellstedt, Lyman A., and Leege, David C.. 1993. Church Involvement and Political Behavior. Pp. 121138 in Rediscovering the Religious Factor in American Politics, edited by David C. Leege and Lyman A. Kellstedt. Armonk, N.H.: M.E. Sharpe.
Wallace, John M., and Williams, David. 1997. Religion and Adolescent Health-Compromising Behavior. Pp. 444468 in Health Risks and Developmental Transitions During Adolescence, edited by John Schulenberg, Jennifer L. Maggs, and Klaus Hurrelman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wolfinger, Raymond, and Rosenstone, Steven J.. 1980. Who Votes? New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Wong, Janelle S., Lien, Pei-te, and Margaret Conway, M.. 2005. Group-Based Resources and Political Participation Among Asian Americans. American Politics Research 33:545576.
Wooldridge, Jeffrey. 2002. Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Gerber supplementary material
Gerber supplementary material 3

 Unknown (12.4 MB)
12.4 MB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Gerber supplementary material
Gerber supplementary material 2

 Unknown (43 KB)
43 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Gerber supplementary material
Gerber supplementary material 1

 Unknown (4 KB)
4 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed