The power of religion

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


Societies that had moralizing high gods in the past are more likely to have religious laws in their state apparatus today.


This hypothesis seeks to test the theory that societies that used religion for political legitimacy in the past are more likely to continue to have religion embedded in their political system today. The authors control for continent, absolute latitude, year of measurement, past development, current development, communism, and Islam (which accounts for half of the observed impact of high gods in contemporary societies). Note that an exception to this seems to be when alternative power structures have been imposed by outside powers (e.g. through colonialism).


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail
Ordinary Least SquaresSupportedp<.01UNKNOWNUNKNOWN


Variable NameVariable Type OCM Term(s)
Presence of Intervening High GodsIndependentSpirits And Gods
Presence of Religious LawsDependentLaw, Theological Systems