The power of religion

Journal of Economic Growth Vol/Iss. Online only Springer Published In Pages: 1-34
By Bentzen, Jeanet Sinding , Gokmen, Gunes


Priests and witches/sorcerers are more common in stratified societies than in unstratified societies.


This hypothesis tests the theory that stratified societies place an emphasis on intervening and punishing gods as they are useful for power purposes. In this case, priests (who create divine legitimacy) and witches/sorcerers (who deal with punishment) serve as proxies for the emphasis on divine legitimization and punishment brought by moralizing high gods. They also show that other religious functionaries with no relation to divine legitimacy or punishment (mediums, healers, and shamans) are equally likely to be present in stratified and unstratified societies.


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail
Ordinary Least SquaresSupportedp<.01UNKNOWNUNKNOWN