Moralizing gods, extended prosociality, and religious parochialism across 15 societies

Submitted. with Lang, M., Purzycki, B. G., Apicella, C. L., Atkinson, Q., Bolyanatz, A., Cohen, E., Handley, C., Kundtová Klocová, E., Lesorogol, C., Mathew, S., McNamara, R. A., Moya C., Placek, C., Soler, M., Vardy, T., Weigel, J. L., Willard, A. K., Xygalatas, D., Norenzayan, A., & Henrich, J.

Explaining the emergence of large-scale cooperation during the Holocene remains a central problem in the evolutionary literature. Among several contributing mechanisms, one hypothesis points to culturally evolved beliefs in punishing, interventionist gods that facilitate the extension of cooperative behavior toward geographically distant co-religionists who are unlikely to reciprocate…

Read More

Churches as informal insurance networks: Prosociality, fairness, and insecurity in the D.R. Congo

Jonathan L. Weigel. 2018. Working Paper.

Humans are often more prosocial than economic theory predicts. But individuals facing material insecurity have strong reasons to be selfish. The small stakes often used in behavioral games could actually make a difference for participants who are uncertain about whether they can provide sufficient food for their families. Nonetheless, this paper finds that highly materially insecure individuals in the urban D.R. Congo give even more…

Read More

The Genetic Legacy of State Centralization in the Kuba Kingdom of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

R&R, PNAS. with L. van Dorp, S. Lowes, N. Ansari-Pour, S. López, J. Mendoza-Revilla, J.A. Robinson, J. Henrich, M.G. Thomas, N. Nunn, and G. Hellenthal.

Few phenomena have had as profound or long-lasting consequences in human history as the emergence of large-scale centralized states in the place of smaller-scale and more-local societies. This study examines a fundamental, and yet, unexplored consequence of state formation: its genetic legacy. We study the genetic impact of state centralization during the formation of the eminent pre-colonial Kuba Kingdom…

Read More

The Taxman Cometh: A Virtuous Cycle of Compliance and State Legitimacy in the D.R. Congo

Jonathan L. Weigel, 2018. Working Paper.

How do states in a low-tax, low-capacity equilibrium spur citizens to start paying taxes? Public-finance models hinge on citizen perceptions of enforcement, while political scientists emphasize the legitimacy of the state in generating voluntary compliance. This paper examines the determinants of payment in the first-ever citizen property tax campaign in a large Congolese city that raised average compliance from 0% to 10%…

Read More

Building State and Citizen: How Tax Collection in Congo Engenders Citizen Engagement with the State

Jonathan L. Weigel. 2017. (Job Market PaperAppendix. Related links: World BankCyrus Samii.

Abstract: Does tax collection catalyze citizen engagement with the state? I conduct the first field experiment to randomize tax collection: a door-to-door tax campaign in Kananga, D.R. Congo. I use the experiment to test the classic “tax-bargaining hypothesis,” which expects citizens to lobby the state for better governance in response to taxation...

Read More