In-Group Preferences and Pentecostalism in Africa: Experimental Evidence from the D.R. Congo

Jonathan L. Weigel. In Preparation.

Abstract: Ethnicity is often assumed to be the most salient cleavage in sub-Saharan African society. But in urban areas, social ties are often stronger among members of the same church than among members of the same ethnicity. This project compares co-ethnic and co-religionist preferences, measured by lab-in-the-field experiments, in the D.R. Congo. To explain how church membership shapes social preferences, I seek to disentangle the role of practices — frequent contact with other churchgoers — and beliefs. I examine in particular whether the emphasis on individual autonomy and responsibility in many Pentecostal churches, which outnumber Catholic or Protestant churches in the study region, shifts believers’ views of kinship and the importance of ancestral traditions.