God insures those who pay? Formal insurance and religious offerings in Ghana

Amma Panim

In collaboration with: Emmanuelle Auriol, Julie Lassebie, Amma Panin, Eva Raiber, and Paul Seabright.

This project presents experimental evidence exploring how insurance might be a motive for religious donations by members of a Pentecostal church in Ghana. We randomize enrollment into a commercially available funeral insurance policy and let church members allocate money between themselves and a set of religious goods in a series of dictator games with significant stakes. Members enrolled in insurance give significantly less money to their own churches. At the same time, enrollment in insurance reduces giving towards other spiritual goods. We set up a model exploring different channels of religious based insurance. The implications of the model and the results of the dictator games suggest that adherents perceive the church as a source of insurance and that this insurance is derived from beliefs in an interventionist God. Survey results suggest that community-based material insurance is also important and we hypothesize that these two insurance channels exist in parallel.