Raymond Fisman

Human Capital and the Supply of Religion

Coauthor(s): Joseph Engelberg, Jay Hartzell, Christopher Parsons.


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We study the role of labor inputs in religious attendance using data on Oklahoma Methodist congregations during 1961–2003. Pastors play a significant role in church growth: replacing a 25th percentile pastor with a 75th percentile one increases annual attendance growth by three percent. A pastor's performance in his first church (largely the result of random assignment) predicts future performance, suggesting a causal effect of pastors on growth. The deployment of pastors by the church indicates efficient use of labor: low-performing pastors are more likely to be rotated or exit the sample, and high-performing pastors are moved to larger congregations.

Exact Citation:
Engelberg, Joseph, Raymond Fisman, Jay Hartzell, and Christopher Parsons. "Human Capital and the Supply of Religion." Columbia Business School, 2013.
Date: 2013