Formal and informal insurance mechanisms help people recover from material losses associated with climate disasters. However, people may also find other ways to cope with human losses caused by disasters and research has suggested that religion may provide psychological relief to individuals experiencing adversity. Here, I test whether climate disasters have a causal effect on religious preferences and the intensity of these preferences across provinces in Canada. I look at the differentiated effect of material and human losses on religiosity. I create a dataset with socioeconomic and demographic information of individuals, including their religious preferences, and information on climate disasters at the provincial level in Canada for the period 1992–2012 and use an instrumental variable approach to deal with omitted variables. The novel finding of this paper is that the frequency of disasters and their impacts have different effects on religious preferences: 1) the number and the economic costs of disasters erode religion preferences, and 2) among religious individuals, human losses increase the intensity of their religious preferences. I also find that disasters at the country-wide level influence religious preferences at the local level.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
In Canada, the cases of the Calgary flood and Ontario floods in 2013 and 2014, and the case of wildfires in Fort McMurray. In the US, the cases of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy in 2005, and 2012.
Both released in summer 2015.
The World Risk Index (www.irdrinternational.orf/2016/03/01/word-risk-index/) measures the vulnerability of society to natural disasters. The index defines 5 risk categories: very low (from a value of 0.08 to 3.46), low (from 3.47 to 5.46), middle (from 5.47 to 7.30), high (from 7.31 to 10.39), and very high (from 10.40 to 36.72). The value of the Index for Canada is 3.01% (very low risk). According to this Index, the safest country is Qatar with a value 0.08%, while the riskiest is Vanuatu with a value of 36.72% (very high risk). For comparison purposes, the US has a value in the ranking of 3,76% (low risk), Great Britain a value of 3.54% (low risk), and Australia a value of 4.22% (low risk). The riskiest areas of the world include Southeast Asia, Central America and the Southern Sahel.
With the exception of four years (2002, 2007, 2008 and 2009) when Canada was not part of the survey.
The results from Ordered Probit and Interval Regressions produce similar results.
Ager P, Ciccone A (2015) Agricultural risk and the spread of religious communities”, EHES Working Papers in Economic History, No.74.
Azagba S, Asbridge M, Langille DB (2014) Is religiosity positively associated with school connectedness: Evidence from High School Students in Atlantic Canada. J Prim Prev 35(6):417–427
Balbuena L, Baetz M, Bowen R (2013) Religious attendance, spirituality, and major depression in Canada: A 14-year follow-up study. Can J Psychiatr 58(4):225–232
Barro R, McCleary RM (2005) Which countries have state religions? Q J Econ 120(4):1331–1370
Bartke S, Schwarze R (2008) Risk-averse by nation or by religion? some insights on the determinants of individual risk attitudes. SOEP paper No. 131
Belloc M, Drago F, Galbiati R (2016) Earthquakes, religion, and transition to self-government in Italian cities. CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5566
Benabou R, Tirole J (2006) Incentives and prosocial behavior. Am Econ Rev 96(5):1652–1678
Benabou R, Tirole J (2011) Identity, morals, and taboos: beliefs as assets. Q J Econ 126(2):805–855
Benabou R, Ticchi D, Vindigni A (2015) Forbidden fruits: the political economy of science, religion, and Growth. NBER Working Paper No. 21105. Cambridge. MA
Bentzen JS (2015) Acts of God? religiosity and natural disasters across subnational world districts. University of Copenhagen, Department of Economics Discussion Paper No. 15–06.
Berger IE (2006) The influence of religion on philanthropy in Canada. Int J Volunt Nonprofit Org 17(2):115–132
Brossard D, Scheufele DA, Kim E, Lewenstein BV (2009) Religiosity as a perceptual filter: examining processes of opinion formation about nanotechnology. Public Underst Sci 18(5):546–558
Burke MB, Miguel E, Satyanath S, Dykema JA, Lobell DB (2009) Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa. PNAS 106(49):20670–20,674
Cavallo E, Galiani S, Noy I, Pantano J (2013) Catastrophic natural disasters and economic growth. Rev Econ Stat 95(5):1549–1561
Cavallo A, Cavallo E, Rigobon R (2014) Prices and supply disruptions during natural disasters. Rev Income Wealth 60(S2):S449–S471. https://doi.org/10.1111/roiw.12141
Chaney E (2013) Revolt on the Nile: economic shocks, religion and political power. Econometrica 81:2033–2053
Chen DL (2010) Club goods and group identity: evidence from islamic resurgence during the indonesian financial crisis. J Polit Econ 118:300–354
Clark A, Lelkes O (2004) Deliver us from evil: religion as insurance. Papers on economics of religion 06/03.
Connor P (2008) Increase or decrease? the impact of the international migratory event on immigrant religious participation. J Sci Study Relig 47(2):243–257
Connor P (2009) Immigrant religiosity in Canada: Multiple trajectories. J Int Migr Integr 10(2):159–175
Dehejia R, DeLeire T, Luttmer EFP (2007) Insuring Consumption and Happiness through Religious Organizations. J Public Econ 91:259–279
Dennett DC (2006) Breaking the Spell: Religion as Natural Phenomenon. Penguin Group, New York
Diamond J (2012) The world until yesterday: What can we learn from traditional societies? Penguin Group, New York
Dilmaghani M (2015) Religiosity, gender, and wage: the differentiated impact of private prayer in Canada. Int J Soc Econ 42(10):888–905
Dilmaghani M (2017a) Religiosity and labour earnings in Canadian Provinces. J Lab Res 38(1):82–99
Dilmaghani M (2017b) Religiosity and subjective Wellbeing in Canada. J Happiness Stud. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-016-9837-7
Dilmaghani M (2017c) Religiosity and social trust: evidence from Canada. Rev Soc Econ 75(1):49–75
Dilmaghani M (2018) Importance of religion or spirituality and mental health in Canada. J Relig Health 58(1):120–135
Dilmaghani M, Dean J (2016) Religiosity and female labour market attainment in Canada: the Protestant exception. Int J Soc Econ 43(3):244–262
Eagle DE (2011) Changing patterns of attendance at religious services in Canada, 1986–2008. J Sci Study Relig 50(1):187–200
Eyer J, Dinterman R, Miller N, Rose A (2018) the effect of disasters on migration destinations: Evidence from Hurricane Katrina. Econ Disasters Clim Chang. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-017-0020-3
Gaskell G, Hallman W, Jackson J (2005) Social values and the governance of science. Science 310:1908–1909
Gill A, Lundsgaarde E (2004) State welfare spending and religiosity: A cross-national analysis. Ration Soc 16(4):399–346
Guiso L, Sapienza P, Zingales L (2003) People’s opium? religion and economic attitudes. J Monet Econ 50(1):225–282
Haile MG, Wossen T, Tesfaye K, von Braun J (2017) Impact of climate change, weather extremes, and price risk on global food supply. Econ Disasters Clim Chang 1(1):55–75. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-017-0005-2
Hoeppe P (2016) Trends in weather related disasters: Consequences for insurers and society. Weather Clim Extremes 11:70–79
Hsiang SM, Sobel AH (2016) Potentially extreme population displacement and concentration in the tropics under non-extreme warming. Sci Rep. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep25697
Hsiang SM, Burke M, Miguel E (2013) Quantifying the influence of climate on human conflict. Science 341(6151):1235367. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1235367
Hsiang SM, Kopp R, Jina A, Rising J, Delgado M, Mohan S, Rasmussen DJ, Muir-Wood R, Wilson P, Oppenheimer M, Larsen K, Houser T (2017) Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States. Science 356(6345):1362–1369. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aal4369
Iannaccone LR (1988) A Formal Model of Church and Sect. Am J Sociol 94(Supplement):S241–S268
Iannaccone LR (1992) Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives. J Polit Econ 100(2):271–291
Iannaccone LR (1995) Voodoo Economics? Reviewing the Rational Choice Approach to Religion. J Sci Study Relig 34(1):76–88
Kahn ME (2005) The Death Toll from Natural Disasters: The Role of Income, Geography and Institutions. Rev Econ Stat 87(2):271–284
Keerthiratne S, Tol RSJ (2017) Impact of Natural Disasters on Financial Development. Econ Disasters Clim Chang 1:33–54
Kneale M (2014) An Atheist’s History of Belief: Understanding our Most Extraordinary Invention. The Bodley Head. London.
Levy G, Razin R (2012) Religious Beliefs, Religious Participation, and Cooperation. Am Econ J: Microecon 4(3):121–151
Loayza NV, Olaberría E, Rigolini J, Christiaensen L (2012) Natural Disasters and Growth: Going Beyond the Average. World Dev 40(7):1317–1336
Maddala GS (1983) Limited Dependent and Qualitative Variables in Econometrics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Marger M (2013) Religiosity in Canada and the United States: Diverging Paths. Am Rev Can Stud 43(1):70–85
McCleary RM, Barro R (2003) Religion and economic growth across countries. Am Sociol Rev 68(5):760–781
Mela MA, Marcoux E, Baetz M, Griffin R, Angelski C, Deqiang G (2008) The effect of religiosity and spirituality on psychological well-being among forensic psychiatric patients in Canada. Ment Health Relig Cult 11(5):517–532
Mullainathan S, Shafir E (2013) Scarcity: why having too little means so much (1st ed.). Times Books, Henry Holt and Co. New York.
Munro A, Managi S (2017) Going back: radiation and intentions to return among household evacuated after the great tohoku earthquake. Econ Disasters Clim Chang 1(1):77–93. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-017-0001-6
Nunn N, Qian N (2014) US Food Aid and Civil Conflict. Am Econ Rev 104(6):1630–1666
Onuma H, Shin KJ, Managi S (2017a) Household preparedness for natural disasters: Impact of disaster experience and implications for future disaster risks in Japan. Int J Disaster Risk Reduct 21:148–158
Onuma H, Shin KJ, Managi S (2017b) Reduction of future disaster damages by learning from disaster experiences. Nat Hazards 87(3):1435–1452
Parida Y, Dash DP, Bhardwaj P, Chowdhury JR (2018) Effects of drought and flood on farmer suicide in Indian States: an empirical analysis. Econ Disasters Climat Chang. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-018-0023-8
Park C, Cohen L, Herb L (1990) Intrinsic religiousness and religious coping as life stress moderators for Catholics versus Protestants. J Pers Soc Psychol 59(3):562–574
Parker M (2017) The Impact of Disasters on Inflation. Econ Disasters Clim Chang. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-017-0017-y
Pecha C, Ruprah IJ (2015) Religion as an Unemployment Insurance and the Basis of Support for Public Safety Nets: The Case of Latin America and the Caribbean. IDB Working Paper Series No. 601. Washington D.C.
Rajapaksa D, Islam M, Managi S (2017) Natural capital depletion: the impact of natural disasters on inclusive growth. Econ Disasters Climat Chang. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-017-0009-y
Reimer SH (1995) A look at cultural effects on religiosity: A comparison between the United States and Canada. J Sci Study Relig 34(4):445–457
Reitz JG, Barnerjee R, Phan M, Thompson J (2009) Race, religion, and the social integration of new immigrant Minorities in Canada. Int Migr Rev 43(4):695–726
Rush JV (2018) The impact of natural disasters on education in indonesia. Econ Disasters Climat Chang. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-017-0022-1
Scheve K, Stasavage D (2006) Religion and preferences for social insurance. Q J Pol Sci 1:255–286
Skidmore M, Toya H (2002) Do natural disasters promote long-run growth? Econ Inq 40(4):664–687
Smith TT, Hardman RK, Richards PS, Fischer L (2003) Intrinsic religiousness and spiritual well-being as predictors of treatment outcome among women with eating disorders. The Journal of Treatment and Prevention 11(1):15–26
Stern G (2007) Can God Intervene? How Religion Explains Natural Disasters. Praeger Publishers, Westport
Strobl E (2012) The economic growth impact of natural disasters in developing countries: Evidence from hurricane strikes in the Central American and Caribbean regions. J Dev Econ 97(1):130–141
Thiessen J, Dawson LL (2008) Is there a “renaissance” of religion in Canada? A critical look at Bibby and beyond. Stud Religi 37(3–4):389–415
Vu TB, Im EI, Hayashi K, Torio R (2017) Cyclones, Deforestation, and Production of Food Crops in Vietnam. Econ Disasters Climat Chang 1(3):245–262. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-017-0010-5
Wilkins-Laflamme S (2014) Towards Religious Polarization? Time Effects on Religious Commitment in U.S., UK, and Canadian Regions. Sociol Relig 75(2): 284–308
Wilkins-Laflamme S (2015) How unreligious are the religious “Nones”? Religious Dynamics of the Unaffiliated in Canada. Can J Sociol 40(4):477–500
Wilson EO (2012) The Social Conquest of Earth. Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York
Yonson R (2018) Floods and pestilence: diseases in Philippine urban areas. Econ Disasters Climat Chang. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-017-0021-2
Zivin G, Hsiang JS, Neidell M (2017) Temperature and human capital in the short and long-run. J Assoc Environ Resour Econ. https://doi.org/10.1086/694177
About this article
Cite this article
Zapata, O. Turning to God in Tough Times? Human Versus Material Losses from Climate Disasters in Canada. EconDisCliCha 2, 259–281 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-018-0029-2
- Climate disasters
- Religious preferences
- Material and human losses
- IV estimation