Politics and Religion: Effects of the Faith-Based Initiatives in the US 1996-2010

Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, Lena Lindbjerg Sperling

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Are religious beliefs influenced by policy? The faith-based initiatives are a series of reforms with the purpose of strengthening the ties between government officials and religious groups, increasing religious groups’ access to public funds and decreasing the constraints on these organizations’ religiosity. We utilize the different uptake of the initiatives over the period 1996-2010 across US states in a diff-in-diff setup. We find that religious attendance, beliefs, and the number of religious non-profits increased in states that passed one or more faith-based initiatives. States do not differ in terms of changes in religiosity or potentially important confounders prior to the reforms. The results hold when restricting the analysis to pairs of counties along state borders and when comparing to a synthetic control group. We find that the initiatives had no effects on various different measures of wellbeing. The results point to strengthened ties between state and church as one explanation for the continued high religiosity levels in many US states.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages69
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventCEPR Conference on The Economics of Religion - Venice, Italy
Duration: 10 Jun 201911 Jun 2019


ConferenceCEPR Conference on The Economics of Religion
Internet address

Cite this