Prof. Michael McBride – associate professor of economics at the University of California, Irvine – discusses how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day States (known informally as the Mormon Church) is organized to overcome free-rider problems.
We begin our podcast with an observation that the LDS Church has maintained a high rate of growth, members show remarkable satisfaction with their church, and how the church relies on a remarkable network of unpaid volunteers serving as clergy and in other organizational positions. Mike then lays out the theory of religious clubs that has been used to explain the growth of strict churches.
We then focus the majority of our attention on how the LDS Church is organized and how they overcome the common tendency of individuals to free-ride on the voluntary efforts of other. Perhaps more than most denominations, Mormons have been able to solve this problem and obtain high levels of participation from their members. McBride also notes that some free-riding is actually important for church growth and discusses how the LDS works with “free-riders” to increase their levels of engagement. At the end of the podcast we speculate as to why other denominations haven’t adopted the LDS form of organization.
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