Is methodology destiny? Religiosity and charitable giving

Yan Li (Mississippi Department of Education, Jackson, Mississippi, USA)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Publication date: 11 September 2017



The purpose of this paper is to examine whether people who engage in religious activities are more generous in terms of both religious and secular giving.


Bivariate probit (BVP) and bivariate tobit (BVT) analyses show that religious people have a greater propensity to give and higher levels of giving to both religious and secular charitable organizations. The bivariate systems permit a test of the correlation across the different giving decisions, and the correlation between religious and secular giving is found to be highly significant.


Religiosity positively influences both religious and secular donations. After controlling for this correlation, the impacts of religiosity on religious and secular giving are more efficient estimates but smaller than expected.


As a result of these methodological shortcomings, the causal relationship between religiosity and charitable giving is far from clear. To overcome those problems, this study uses BVP and BVT models to control for the potential correlation between religious giving and secular giving by the same individual and then draws appropriate interpretations. This study adds a firmer theoretical foundation to the existing literature.



Li, Y. (2017), "Is methodology destiny? Religiosity and charitable giving", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 44 No. 9, pp. 1197-1210.

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