Life in the Household

Witham Larry

in Marketplace of the Gods

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195394757
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199777372 | DOI:
Life in the Household

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Family economics, which looks at the production and consumption in a household, can be applied to religion. The household is typically husband and wife, parents and children, operates under constraints of time and money, seeking both economic goals (income) and non-economic goals, such as leisure. Religion falls under the non-economic goals of a household. But all activity in a household can have future consequences, which economics explains with the concept of “human capital.” Education is the typical example. It is an accumulation of skill, habit, and knowledge (capital) that enriches life and promise higher income. The capital approach can be applied to religion by analyzing the household accumulation of religious habit, knowledge, and association. Human “religious capital” predicts religious affiliations, tastes, conversions, “switching,” and marriages. It also throws light on life-cycle patterns of how individuals and families invest time and money in religious beliefs and behaviors.

Keywords: consumption; conversion; household; human capital; marriage; preferences; religious capital; switching; time allocation

Chapter.  8829 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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