Benjamin Milner receives SSHRC Insight Development Grant

Benjamin Milner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, has received an SSHRC Insight Development Grant for $29,265.

Economics Staff - 5 April 2023

Project Title: "Investing In Angels: The Impacts of a Century of Randomized Grants to Clergy in 18th­ Century Britain"

Discussion of the causes of religiosity is as old as religions themselves. Despite this, there is still much we do not know concerning why religiosity varies so greatly across people and places. In particular, the importance of state sponsorship continues to be a matter of debate. Support by the state of a particular religious group may serve to promote religiosity, by subsidizing religious practices; conversely, it may stifle religiosity by preventing the emergence of a competitive religious marketplace. Given this ambiguity, what are the consequences of state investment in religion, especially in the face of increased competition? To examine this, this project studies an institution that randomized grants to poor clergy in the Church of England. Throughout the 18th century, Queen Anne’s Bounty (QAB) held a lottery every year, in which all Church of England churches whose funding was below a cutoff were eligible.  Those that won received a large permanent stipend to fund their local minister.  By examining how winning the lottery affected outcomes such as church attendance and the presence of rival churches in the long-run, we hope to better understand the factors that shape religiosity.