Religious Fragmentation, Social Identity and Conflict: Evidence from an Artefactual Field Experiment in India
We examine the impact of religious identity and village-level religious fragmentation on behavior in Tullock contests. We report on a series of two-player Tullock contest experiments conducted on a sample of 516 Hindu and Muslim participants in rural West Bengal, India. Our treatments are the identity of the two players and the degree of religious fragmentation in the village where subjects reside. Our main finding is that the effect of social identity is small and inconsistent across the two religious groups in our study. While we find small but statistically significant results in line with our hypotheses in the Hindu sample, we find no statistically significant effects in the Muslim sample. This is in contrast to evidence from Chakravarty et al. (2016), who report significant differences in cooperation levels in prisoners’ dilemma and stag hunt games, both in terms of village composition and identity. We attribute this to the fact that social identity may have a more powerful effect on cooperation than on conflict.