Parker Fleming received the 2020 Cobb Fellowship after the Economics Department faculty voted that his third year research paper was the strongest among his fellow classmates. The fellowship provides funding for the 4th year of the PhD program and removes any teaching assistant or research assistant responsibilities so the recipient can focus as much as possible on their dissertation progress.
Parker’s third year paper will form the basis of his first dissertation chapter and examines cultural differences between and among members of different religious communities across the world. Perhaps surprisingly, he documents little overlap between religious and cultural identity. He establishes religion as a statistically significant predictor of an individual’s norms, values, and preferences. But, he also establishes the economic insignificance of religion after controlling for individual and local effects.
During the year of his fellowship, Parker will expand this work in economics and culture as he continues progress on his dissertation. His upcoming research will look at specific historical events using microeconometric techniques to understand the circumstances where religious membership and beliefs drive significant differences in economic and cultural behavior. He also intends to examine how historical differences between individuals and cultures persist today.