U.S. Churches' Response to COVID-19: Results from Facebook

54 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2020

See all articles by Eva Raiber

Eva Raiber

Aix-Marseille University - Aix-Marseille School of Economics

Paul Seabright

University of Toulouse I - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: December 2020

Abstract

This study investigates U.S. churches' response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic by looking at their public Facebook posts. For religious organizations, in-person gatherings are at the heart of their activities. Yet religious in-person gatherings have been identified as some of the early hot spots of the pandemic, but there has also been controversy over the legitimacy of public restrictions on such gatherings. Our sample contains information on church characteristics and Facebook posts for nearly 4000 churches that posted at least once in 2020. The share of churches that offer an online church activity on a given Sunday more than doubled within two weeks at the beginning of the pandemic (the first half of March 2020) and stayed well above baseline levels. Online church activities are positively correlated with the local pandemic situation at the beginning, but uncorrelated with most state interventions. After the peak of the first wave (mid April), we observe a slight decrease in online activities. We investigate heterogeneity in the church responses and find that church size and worship style explain differences consistent with churches facing different demand and cost structures. Local political voting behavior, on the other hand, explains little of the variation. Descriptive analysis suggests that overall online activities, and the patterns of heterogeneity, remain unchanged through end-November 2020.

JEL Classification: H75, I18, Z12

Suggested Citation

Raiber, Eva and Seabright, Paul, U.S. Churches' Response to COVID-19: Results from Facebook (December 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP15566, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3753966

Eva Raiber (Contact Author)

Aix-Marseille University - Aix-Marseille School of Economics ( email )

2 rue de la Charité
Marseille, 13236
France

Paul Seabright

University of Toulouse I - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI) ( email )

Manufacture des Tabacs
21 Allee de Brienne bat. F
Toulouse Cedex, F-31000
France
+33 5 61 12 86 17 (Phone)
+33 5 61 12 86 37 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
0
Abstract Views
65
PlumX Metrics