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Giulia Buccione (Brown University)

18 January 2024 @ 12:00 - 13:15


  • Past event


18 January 2024
12:00 - 13:15
Event Category:
Academic Events

Religious Messaging and Adaptation to Water Scarcity: Evidence from Jordan

Abstract. Can religion drive behavioral change? I study this question using a randomized evaluation in the context of water preservation in Jordan. Water preservation is crucial in the face of rising scarcity, yet it is challenging to change behaviors. In an experiment involving women attending religious classes, those in treated classes receive messaging on the sanctity of water in Islam, while the others attend classes on an unrelated religious topic. The treatment fosters prosocial attitudes and conservation efforts regarding water resources. Relative to the control, treated women were 28% more likely to donate to a water charity. More importantly, after three months, they reduced objectively measured water consumption by 17%. Exploring mechanisms, the messages work by instilling religious beliefs about water, especially those firmly rooted in the religious canon. In contrast, I observe a backlash against new practices that have been recently accepted by religious scholars but are not grounded in the tradition. Effective religious leaders emphasize concepts of moral responsibility over ritual practice and adopt an interactive teaching style. My findings provide new evidence on the potential of harnessing religion to change behaviors and the inner workings of such religious interventions.