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Love thy neighbor – religion and prosociality

Guido Heineck (Department of Economics, University of Bamberg, Bamberg, Germany)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between religious involvement and attitudinal (importance of helping others and of being socially active) and behavioral components of prosociality (volunteering, charitable giving, and blood donations) in Germany.


The empirical analyses are based on representative, longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, which allows avoiding issues of reverse causality.


The results suggest for a moderate, positive link between individuals’ religious involvement as measured by church affiliation and church attendance and the prosociality aspects addressed. Despite the historic divide in religion, the results in West and East Germany do not differ substantially in terms of the underlying mechanisms.


The paper complements the growing literature from experimental economics on the relationship between individuals’ religiosity and their prosociality. Based on representative longitudinal data, it contributes by providing evidence for Germany for which there is barely any insight yet and by addressing a wider range of attitudinal and (self-reported) behavioral components of prosociality.



Heineck, G. (2017), "Love thy neighbor – religion and prosociality", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 44 No. 7, pp. 869-883.



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