This cross-country study adopts a competing theories approach in which both a value perspective and a social capital perspective are used to understand the relation between religion and a country’s business ownership rate. We distinguish among four dimensions of religion: belonging to a religious denomination, believing certain religious propositions, bonding to religious practices, and behaving in a religious manner. An empirical analysis of data from 30 OECD countries with multiple data points per country covering the period 1984–2010 suggests a positive relationship between religion and business ownership based on those dimensions that reflect the internal aspects of religiosity (i.e., believing and behaving). We do not observe a significant association for those dimensions that reflect more external aspects of religion (i.e., belonging and bonding). These results suggest that the social capital perspective prevails the value perspective, at least when internal aspects of religiosity are concerned. More generally, our study demonstrates the importance of distinguishing between different dimensions of religion when investigating the link between religion and entrepreneurship.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal of Evolutionary Economics
Erasmus School of Economics

Hoogendoorn, B., Rietveld, N., & van Stel, A. (2016). Belonging, believing, bonding, and behaving: the relationship between religion and business ownership at the country level. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 26(3), 519–550. doi:10.1007/s00191-016-0447-7