"Human Capital and the Supply of Religion"
Publication type: Working paper
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.
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