Social Science

Trading growth for happiness

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Science  27 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6225, pp. 961
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6225.961-d

Muslims pray before breaking fast during the holy month of Ramadan

PHOTO: © DIVYAKANT SOLANKI/EPA/CORBIS

Does the dawn-to-dusk fasting practiced by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan affect labor supply and productivity? The timing of Ramadan follows the lunar calendar, and day length varies with latitude and season; Campante and Yanagizawa-Drott use these sources of exogenous variation to demonstrate that longer fasting results in a lower rate of growth in gross domestic product. They also find that an increase in subjective well-being serves as recompense for what is a costly religious practice, probably via well-established cultural mechanisms that have contributed to the evolution of many prosocial religions, as described by Norenzayan et al.

Quart. J. Econ. 130, 10.1093/qje/qjv002 (2015); Behav. Brain Sci. 10.1017/S0140525X14001356 (2014).

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