Study of the Post-War Economic Behavior of Presbyterian Congregations

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Mon, 01/01/1990

Krohn developed a model of the economic behavior of religious congregations and inserted post-World War II data on Presbyterian congregations into the model in order to learn how changes in prices, income, membership, social conditions, and government transfer payments have affected the congregations' receipts and expenditures. In particular, he wished to explain the declining share of congregations' receipts used for benevolences, i.e., funds contributed to other organizations, especially to various levels of the denominational infrastructure. A random sample of 100 congregations was selected from the 1988 Minutes of the General Assembly. However, a consistent data series for total receipts, local program and mission expenditures, capital expenditures, and several components of benevolences were available for only 40 of these congregations, and it is data from these 40 that are analyzed. Krohn found that per capita county income, membership size, capital expenditures per member, and the poverty rate are statistically significant determinants of per capita receipts and benevolences, although membership size and the poverty rate explain little of the decline in the ratio of benevolences to receipts. Clergy salaries, the relative prices of energy and medical insurance, government transfer payments, and the income tax rate appear unrelated to congregational receipts and benevolences. (MC)