Charitable Christians, punitive neighbors: Religiosity and economic norms in a water-scarce environment

Benjamin Jewell, Amber Wutich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


This chapter examines how religion and religiosity shape economic norms in Villa Israel, an urban squatter settlement in Cochabamba, Bolivia. In Villa Israel, residents share water with others to help overcome limited access to drinking water. Using a mixed methods approach, we draw on the results of ethnographic research and economic experiments. The analyses yield three key results. First, there were strong norms of generosity and charitable giving in the community. Second, religiosity was positively associated with generosity. People who adhered to Christian conceptions of charity and frequently attended religious services were more likely to give generously. While wealth was a limiting factor on some families' ability to give water, there was no evidence that the rich and poor endorsed different norms of fair giving. Third, the norms of fair giving varied in the context of the three most common reciprocal relationships in the community (family members, coreligionists, and neighbors).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Economics of Religion
Subtitle of host publicationAnthropological Approaches
EditorsLionel Obadia, Donald Wood
Number of pages31
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

Publication series

NameResearch in Economic Anthropology
ISSN (Print)0190-1281

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'Charitable Christians, punitive neighbors: Religiosity and economic norms in a water-scarce environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this