NEW UPDATE: Completed trials may now upload and register supplementary documents (e.g. null results reports, populated pre-analysis plans, or post-trial results reports) in the Post Trial section under Reports, Papers, & Other Materials.
Preferences for Religious Giving
Initial registration date
February 11, 2015
July 15, 2020 10:41 AM EDT
Toulouse School of Economics(IAST)
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
This study investigates why people give money to religious organizations, using a laboratory experiment in Accra, Ghana. In particular, we seek to understand to what extent religious organizations such as churches and mosques provide informal insurance to households. Although contracts exist with quite low premiums, less than 1% of Ghanaian households are insured. With 96% of inhabitants reporting themselves to be religious, beliefs in a God play a major role in the daily lives of many Ghanaians. Much of this religious activity is backed by regular and significant contributions to the church through tithes, regular offering, and other forms of giving. We offer households a range of incentivized choices between donations to religious organizations and other financial options. We implement treatments including increasing the perceived risk of life accidents and the provision of free insurance to observe the effect on the demand for religious giving. We compare populations of church members and a control group drawn from the general population.
The study will be conducted in two parts: first, a survey covering demographic
questions and religious beliefs and behaviour and second, a decision task
presenting participants with binary choices on ways to spend 11GHS. Our interest is to investigate the effect of increasing the salience of life accidents risk and the effect of providing individuals an insurance policy on their preferences for making donations to different causes.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The key outcome variable is the potential difference in donations between individuals endowed with treatments and individuals without, and difference between active church members of a specific denomination and a control group.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We divide the subjects into three groups; 1/3 of the subjects will be allocated with a life insurance policy, 1/3 of the
participants will be told about, but not endowed with, this insurance policy, and 1/3 of the participants will form the control group. The study will be carried out in two populations. The church group will consist of people recruited from the Assemblies of God church and the general group will be recruited from the Kaneshie market in Accra.
Experimental Design Details
Church participants will be recruited from the church population. General participants will be recruited
from the Kaneshie market in Accra. They will be approached in advance and invited to show up to a specific session. All
participants will receive text message reminders about the experiment session
and location. The show-up fee will be calibrated to ensure that it covers basic
public transport to the experiment location. Anyone above the age of 18, and the mental and
physical capacity to answer questions for 1.5 hours will be eligible to participate
in the experiment.
experiment classroom will be equipped with 10 computers separated by some
sort of physical divider. All locations will also have a black/whiteboard. The
choices to be played and their associated tags (A, B , C,…J) will be prominently
displayed for the duration of the experiment. Participants have to choose how to allocate 11GHS between 2 options. The alternatives are: keeping the money, donating to the thanksgiving offering of the National Prayer
Week, donating to the Street Children Empowerment Fund, making a private donation directly to the Assemblies of God and making a non-anonymous donation directly to the Assemblies of God for the church or making a private and a non-anonymous donation to the market's association for market's members.
church, anonymously and publicly. All these choices are kept anonymous, except for the public choice to give to the church, for which the name of the participant and the amount he chose to give is communicated to the Pastor
Draw a sealed enveloppe by a participant
Randomization at the session level
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
at least 36 sessions
Sample size: planned number of observations
at least 360 participants
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
at least 12 sessions with insurance, 12 sessions with increased perceived risk, 12 control sessions; half of them with church members, half of them with market members
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Post Trial Information
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
December 31, 2015, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
December 31, 2015, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
203 Insurance; 170 Insurance Information; 203 No Insurance
Is public data available?
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Reports, Papers & Other Materials
This paper provides experimental support for the hypothesis that insurance can be a motive for religious donations. We randomize enrollment of members of a Pentecostal church in Ghana into a commercial funeral insurance policy. Then 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 church compared to members that only receive information about the insurance. Enrollment also reduces giving towards other spiritual goods. We set up a model exploring different channels of religiously based insurance. The implications of the model and the results from 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 material insurance from the church community is also important and we hypothesize that these two insurance channels exist in parallel.
Emmanuelle Auriol, Julie Lassébie, Amma Panin, Eva Raiber, and Paul Seabright. “God Insures Those Who Pay? Formal Insurance and Religious Offerings in Ghana,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS
Expost approval letter.pdf
July 15, 2020