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The University of Southampton
EconomicsPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

1507 Food Abstention, Religious Observance & Prosocial Behavior: Evidence from Ramadan (C. A. Ioannou et al)


Ernan E. Haruvy (University of Texas at Dallas)Christos A. Ioannou (University of Southampton) & Farnoush Golshirazi (University of Oxford)


Paper number 1507


Does food intake a ect prosocial behavior? Extant knowledge suggests that food intake
increases prosocial behavior. But this may not be universally true, especially when religious
fasting holidays are concerned. We investigate experimentally the impact of religious fasting
in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on prosocial behavior. Our sample consists of male
factory workers in a manufacturing facility in Iran. Each worker is asked to allocate an amount
of money between himself and a stranger. Strikingly, the e ect of food intake is reversed during
the holy month of Ramadan. Workers who are in the midst of their Ramadan fast are far
more generous to recipients than workers who have had their evening meal, and more generous
than fasting and non-fasting workers outside Ramadan. Interestingly, workers who have had
their evening meal during Ramadan are statistically indistinguishable from non-fasting workers
outside of Ramadan. Our ndings suggest that it is the interaction of food abstention with the
ritual of fasting and religious observance that ampli es prosocial behavior.

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