Few studies have examined the role of religiosity and social capital on civic engagement in the context of a Muslim country. In this paper, we explore the impact of religiosity and social capital on charitable donations and volunteerism in Qatar. Drawing on a nationally representative survey from Qatar, we consider various attitudinal and behavioral measures for capturing religiosity and social capital. The results indicate that, even after controlling for a wide range of demographic variables, behavioral measures have a stronger effect than attitudes. Individuals who regularly perform daily prayers are more likely to donate than those individuals who simply describe themselves as religious. Similarly, individuals who are more active in their neighborhood engagement are more likely to volunteer than those who merely report high levels of social trust. These results suggest that when it comes to the relationship between religiosity, social capital and civic engagement, individual behavior is much more predictive than attitudes alone. We also find that even in the case of Qatar, where citizen wealth has rapidly increased in the last few decades, there is little evidence of substitution effects: citizens do not appear to trade-off or substitute between time and money. Instead, more religious and active citizens are likely to do both.
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However, Wuthnow (1999) cautions researchers about the use of religious participation as a predictor of volunteering in the United States. He argues that because religious participation has remained almost the same over time, the decline in other forms of civic engagement cannot be simply explained by an eroding base in religion. He argues that the relationship between religious participation and civic engagement, as well as the composition of religious participation, may be changing and hence signaling future problems for civic engagement in the United States.
A growing literature on religiosity and political behavior has shown how important it is that we take context seriously. Individual attitudes on democracy and corruption depend on a complex, conditional relationship between macro-political structures (e.g., a country’s regime type) and an individual’s local religious context (Bloom and Arikan 2012; Sommer et al. 2013).
We wish to thank an anonymous reviewer for pointing this to us.
The correlation between the religiosity and social capital variables is as follow: religiosity and trust (−0.0009); religiosity and social capital (0.0157); Fajr and trust (−0.0111); Fajr and social capital (0.0718).
In the regression, we standardized the income variable by subtracting the mean and dividing by the standard deviation.
We wish to thank the anonymous reviewer who suggested this treatment of the income variable to us.
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Diop, A., Johnston, T., Le, K.T. et al. Donating Time or Money? The Effects of Religiosity and Social Capital on Civic Engagement in Qatar. Soc Indic Res 138, 297–315 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-017-1646-9
- Social capital
- Charitable donations
- Muslim countries
- Gulf cooperation countries