Economic and Political Preferences of Different Religions: Catholic Versus Orthodox Groups of Population in Ukraine

Maria Snegovaya (Higher School of Economics)

Abstract: Formal and informal institutions are closely linked and greatly depend on each other to shape economic and social policy. The Russian Orthodox Church is one of the most important informal institutions that shape people’s values, attitudes, and behavior. We use data from the 1999 wave of the EVS to investigate the causal relationship between a religious denomination (Catholics versus Orthodox) and a variety of political-economic attitudes in the Ukrainian population. We perform a multivariate analysis that permits us to assess which political-economic attitudes were still linked to a particular religious domination, even when controlling for many other individual characteristics. The dependent variables are the individual attitudes towards freedom, authority, democracy, and economic conceptions (perception of competition and state redistribution). We show that the Orthodox are more likely to have anti-democratic (pro-autocratic), anti-competitive (pro-government redistribution) and pro-state control preferences, as compared to Catholics and atheists. Because of the problem of omitted variables, our estimates are unlikely to uncover any causal effect of the denomination on political-economic attitudes. To isolate the direction of causation from the Russian Orthodox Church domination to political-economic attitudes, we propose distance from local religious centers as potential instruments in the next draft of this paper.