Religiosity and Economic Behaviour. an Exploratory Analysis of the Hungary-Romania Cross-Border Area

By Stefanescu, Florica; Saveanu, Sorana | Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, Summer 2013 | Go to article overview

Religiosity and Economic Behaviour. an Exploratory Analysis of the Hungary-Romania Cross-Border Area


Stefanescu, Florica, Saveanu, Sorana, Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies


Abstract: Our paper is an exploratory analysis of the role religion can still have today with respect to directing students' economic behaviour. We evaluated and grouped the theories dealing with the relationship between religion and economics in three categories: theories that consider the two areas as incompatible, theories that identify mutual determination between them and theories that admit the coexistence or the mutual support between economics and religion. We sought to clarify the degree of religiosity of students and its relationship with the economic behaviour (employment during studies, job seeking, characteristics of the desired job etc.), relying our conclusions on the data of the questionnaire-based survey conducted among students in the Hungary-Romania cross- border area. Our study results indicate a decline regarding the degree of religiosity among students of both countries, but also important differences with respect to the religiosity degree recorded in the case of the students in the two countries, indicating a higher degree of religiosity among the students from Romania. Our research reveals the lack or the little effect concerning the influence that religiosity exerts on the economic behaviour, suggesting the need for other explanatory models of higher education students' labour market participation.

Key Words: youth, religion, religiousness, working students, work experience, volunteering

Introduction. Interdisciplinary approaches to social life

Gary Beker is the one who opens the path to an interdisciplinary approach to social life, especially toward an interpretation, from an economic perspective, of the various aspects: demography (fertility, 1960; children, 1973; marriage, 1977; family, 1981; life, 1992, 1997), education (1964), behaviour (discrimination, 1957; crime, 1968), attitudes (charity, envy and hatred, tastes, political influence, rationality). Even if, as he admits it, "the economic approach to human behaviour is not new, even outside the market sector"1, as such concerns have existed since Adam Smith, Beker proposes complex models of analysis of the mutual interactions between the individual behaviour and the social environment changes, models that allow a better understanding of the social phenomenon as a whole. As in the case of Beker, who tries to explain from an economic perspective several social issues, there are also attempts to explain them from a perspective pertaining to religiosity, social, economic and cultural facts2.

The increasingly rapid changes occurring in the socio-economic space are now a reality that cannot be challenged by anyone. Moreover, some researchers analysing the changing social phenomenon consider that it "follows the same pattern in all countries"3. Given the complexity of the relationships between social life components, as well as the differences between these components, we are reluctant to accept this point of view, especially in the area of our study: religion and economy. Of course, we can speak about a general trend, one concerning the decreasing influence religion exerts on society, one of a greater influence of religion on private life and individual behaviour and less on public life and various areas of public life4, but we cannot speak about a model, and even less about a unitary measure of changes.

The impact of religion on economy and economic behaviour

Studies regarding the relationship between economics and religion have been made both by economists and by scholars of different religions, in some cases independent from each other while in other cases together, common themes being related to economic policies (mainly those related to income redistribution and consumption)5, to the impact of religion on the economic behaviour of the individuals and collectivities, and also concerning the relationships between economic theory and theological thought6. The result of this approach was, on the one hand, the introduction of religious moral values in the economists' speech as benchmarks of the economic activity, in other words, the inclusion by the economic, along the positivist character, of a normative character, and on the other hand, the approach to religion as an economic activity that in conditions of competition provides religious services to those requesting them or produces social goods based on principles of competition and economic efficiency7. …

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