A separation of church and growth? The intersections of Seventh-day Adventism and economic development in Puerto Rico

Josefer Montes


This dissertation investigates the intersections of religion and economics, specifically the Puerto Rican economy and the Puerto Rico Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA). Chapter II investigated the relationship between an economy that exports its currency and one that imports its currency by researching how United States monetary policy impacts the Puerto Rican economy. Through the perspective of the Optimal Currency Area (OCA) framework as posited by Mundell (1961) and employing a vector autoregression (VAR) model, the impact of U.S. monetary shocks was investigated by regressing those effects against Puerto Rican employment data. While the Puerto Rican business cycle generally follows that of the United States, asymmetric effects from U.S. monetary policy shocks on Puerto Rican employment are statistically significant and typically last over three years. Chapter III investigated the intersections of religion and economic development by researching how members of the SDA Church in Puerto Rico believe that church membership has affected their lives. Using survey data and employing simple and multivariate regression models, the impact of Seventh-day Adventism was investigated through the attitudes and responses resultant of the survey. The United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Index (HDI) served as the theoretical perspective. The regression models suggested that of the variables measured only commitment level has any significant affect on perceived economic development. Gender and previous religious affiliation had no effect, with education level, age and income level having minimal effect. These findings are similar to other studies regarding the influence of religiosity on economic outcomes. Through the theoretical perspective of Azzi and Ehrenberg's (1975) economic model of religiosity, Chapter IV investigated the intersections of religion and economics. Regressing Puerto Rican macroeconomic data with Seventh-day Adventist Church in Puerto Rico growth and giving statistics will measure how the Puerto Rican economy influences Seventh-day Adventist growth and giving in Puerto Rico. Sales' (1972) research relating economic threat to authoritarian behaviors posits that an authoritarian denomination like the SDA church would be countercyclical in regards to church growth and macroeconomics. However, this chapter's models suggested an entirely different conclusion; the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Puerto Rico is procyclical.