This dissertation consists of two empirical studies in microeconomics. The first explores whether there are persistent cultural differences across individuals of different religious denominations. Specifically, using data on more than 200,000 individuals in over 100 countries, it explores the relationship between cultural values and individuals' religious beliefs. I document that individuals' religious affiliation generally does not have an economically significant relationship with their cultural values. This result is especially strong for cultural values associated in the literature with economic development, democracy, or gender attitudes. Moreover, I find that cultural diversity within religions trumps cultural diversity across religions. Contrary to the strong-held belief among social scientists that individuals from different religious denominations have different cultural values, these results suggest that cultural differences across the world do not seem to be driven by religion. The second empirical study uses a difference-in-differences approach to study how exposure to religious revivals affects political behavior and partisan ideology and to what extent exposure to these cultural events drives differences and divergences between political identities. I examine the cultural and political impacts of religious revivals held by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) across the United States. Using a differences-in-differences design with staggered adoption, I find that religious revivals had no significant effect on voter turnout or two-party Republican vote share. Instead, revivals increased the partisan intensity of elected officials in both a leftward and rightward direction. I employ an augmented synthetic control method to examine heterogeneity in treatment effects, finding strong evidence for roots of modern political polarization along religious, socioeconomic, and economic dimensions.

Degree Date

Spring 5-27-2023

Document Type


Degree Name





Omer Ozak

Second Advisor

Daniel Millimet

Third Advisor

Klaus Desmet

Subject Area


Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Thursday, July 06, 2028

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