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Religious Markets

The three main economic roles that people play in religion – consumers, producers, and investors – fit together to create markets. Social outcomes (markets) constitute the equilibria that emerge from the aggregation and interaction of individual actions on both the productive and consumptive sides of religion (Iannaccone and Bainbridge 2009:468).  Markets vary widely in the diversity of choices offered, depending on the relative population size, history, and level of regulation/repression of certain forms of religion occurring in a given context.


Iannaccone, Laurence R. and William Sims Bainbridge. 2009. “Economics of Religion.” Pp. 461-475 in The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion (2nd edition), ed. John Hinnells. New York, NY: Routledge.

Stark, Rodney and Roger Finke.  2000.  Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion.  Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

The following are possible measures of Religious Markets that can be created using data from theARDA.com

The Herfindahl Index is most commonly used in economics to measure the market share of industries.  Applied to religion, it assesses the "evenness" of religious groups pertaining to the overall market of adherents in a geo-political area.  Its use to predict attendance or adherence rates has been controversial, since a "mathematical relationship between [the] variables" may cause potentially erroneous results (Voas et al. 2002: 212).

In 2000, Steensland and colleagues proposed a new method for classifying religious tradition which was based on both doctrine and historical changes in religious groups.  The schematic divides religious traditions into black Protestant, Catholic, evangelical Protestant, Jewish, mainline Protestant, no religion, and "other" religion.  The "other" category functions as a catch-all to reduce missing cases in multivariate analyses with listwise deletion, but should not be substantively interpreted, as it contains a mixture of Eastern religious traditions, Mormons, and everything in between.  The classification scheme is created by using variables such as affiliation and denomination to classify respondents. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
This measure assesses the extent to which a government regulates the religious economy present in the country. View related items in Measurement Wizard Scales:  
Several files in theARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
GRI_AG: Variable 6 from International Religious Freedom Data, Aggregate File
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