Baptism Bonus

Joshua Gans and I have previously shown that financial incentives can affect birth timing. Now some evidence that non-monetary incentives matter too. From the BBC:

At the end of 2007, in a move to reverse the Caucasian country’s dwindling birth figures, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, came up with an incentive. He promised to personally baptise any baby born to parents of more than two children.

There was only one catch: the baby had to be born after the initiative was launched.

The results are, in the words of the Georgian Orthodox Church, "a miracle". … The country’s birth rate increased by nearly 20% during 2008 – a rate four times faster than the previous year.

‘Personally baptise’ all those babies? Wow, that sounds like a full time job. Unless…

The next baptism is scheduled for early April, when thousands of mums, dads and their children will cram into Tbilisi’s biggest church, the Sameba Cathedral. The babies will be briefly dipped into a gigantic inflatable font after receiving a blessing from his Holiness, Ilia II.

HT: Rocco Weglarz (font of all wisdom this week)

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2 Responses to Baptism Bonus

  1. James Alan Oloo says:

    I ‘like’ the fact that money and God play an important role in many people’s lives. I enjoyed reading your article with Gans.

  2. Cathy says:

    Andrew,

    You should get some census data from Japan and have a look at the number of people born in 1966 – the most recent “fire horse” year in the Sino-Japanese horoscope.

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