Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Chambers College of Business and Economics



Committee Chair

Santiago Pinto.


This dissertation consists of three essays that provide empirical evidence on the importance of institutions, informal institutions and particularly religion in economic development. In the first chapter, the relationship between religious adherence rate in the U.S. counties and entrepreneurship is examined. After controlling for spatial dependencies, results indicate that more religious counties, meaning counties with higher rate of religious membership, have lower entrepreneurial potentials. Chapter 2 investigates the relevance of institutional quality in efficiency of public spending. This study is delivered in the state level. By using a nonparametric method, efficiency of public spending is calculated and then its relationship with some indicators of institutional quality is tested. It is shown that states with better judicial system and less restrictive labor market present more effective public spending. In the last chapter the role of state religiosity in the political and societal conflict is studied. The hypothesis states that if a country has a religious government, the chance and magnitude of having a domestic conflict due to religious heterogeneity would increase. After controlling for several covariates, there is not enough evidence found to reject the null hypothesis. Therefore religious heterogeneity in countries with religious state seems to be associated with larger magnitude of conflict.