A Changing Religious Landscape and Community Social Bonds
63 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2020 Last revised: 6 Feb 2022
Date Written: September 28, 2020
Throughout the world, common social spaces are changing due to shifts in religious associations. We analyze this process and its effect on community social bonds by collecting a novel panel dataset reflecting changes in social relationships and religious institutions in a sub-region of western Kenya undergoing rapid growth in religious institutions. We find that a one standard deviation increase in the density of religious institutions in the vicinity of two peers increases the likelihood that they cut information ties by 8.2 percentage points. The mechanism for this effect lies in the increased likelihood of an individual switching to a new religious institution, which severs their religious connection with their previous acquaintances. The results suggest that policies that rely on social connections (e.g., information diffusion) may not be as effective as religious fragmentation increases and average religious institution size falls.
Keywords: Religion, religious institutions, social spaces, social capital, network linkages, Kenya, Africa
JEL Classification: Z12, O12, D83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation