Oeindrila Dube (University of Chicago) (webinar)
20 October 2021 @ 16:30 - 17:45
“Climate Shocks and Religious Fervor: Evidence from Afghanistan”
Joint with Bocconi University
Abstract. Religious conviction has been hard to study because it is hard to measure: self-reported data is both infrequent and potentially biased. We use anonymized “digital trace” cell phone data to create a novel measure of religiosity in Afghanistan. The resulting measurements are highly granular in time and space. We illustrate the power of this data by looking at the effect of economic shocks. Rising temperatures in Afghanistan are increasing the severity and frequency of droughts. Using quasi-random changes to climate, we find that our measures of religious adherence are sensitive to these droughts: as economic conditions worsen, people become more and more observant. The effects are most pronounced in areas where droughts have the biggest economic consequences, such as croplands without access to irrigation.
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