Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Price Elasticity of Supply for
Doing God's Work

One might expect that those who dedicate their lives to the church would tend not to be responsive to pecuniary incentives. After all, doing God's work is all that is important, isn't it?

After having spent two years in theological seminary, I can assure you that seminarians discuss pay, benefits, and pensions when talking about job/placement prospects. But my experience was with one of the more "secular" standard brand religions -- the Congregational branch of the U.S. United Church of Christ. I wondered how monks and priests might respond to pecuniary, worldly rewards. Here's a partial answer [h/t to BF for this link]:

ONE hundred and eighty outraged priests in a Spanish parish near Valencia have launched an unprecedented rebellion against their bishop, who last week slashed their wages and asked them to make up the difference by dipping into the collection box.

In a response, at least one aggrieved priest yesterday sought advice from the socialist trade union federation, the UGT, which claims never to have come across a case of its kind.
If priests respond in part to pecuniary incentives, one might expect moves like this to reduce the quantity supplied. Look for standards for admission to the Spanish priesthood to decline over time. (see what happened with Australian teachers when they were unable to maintain high standards and still fill all the slots in teachers' college).

I left seminary after two years, having read Elmer Gantry. It struck a chord.
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