MONEY, SEX AND RELIGION: THE CASE OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND

AuthorRobert I. Mochrie,Ian Smith,John W. Sawkins
Publication Date01 May 2007
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9485.2007.00411.x
MONEY, SEX AND RELIGION: THE CASE
OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
Ian Smith
n
, John W. Sawkins
nn
and Robert I. Mochrie
nn
Abstract
This empirical study addresses whether the gender of a minister has any effect on
remuneration in the Church of Scotland in 2004. The data set merges three
cross-sectional sources, namely denominational data, church census information
and local geographic (postcode) characteristics. We find that male ministers
are more likely to be matched to affluent churches permitted to pay a voluntary
stipend premium all else equal. Moreover, conditional on eligibility, there is
evidence that male clergy are more likely to receive this bonus. The data are
unable to discriminate between demand and supply side explanations of these
findings.
I Intro ductio n
Gender discrimination in religious institutions has not received much attention
from economists despite its status as a sector that has long practised
occupational exclusion, using explicit rules to prohibit the hiring of women.
Indeed many globally significant religious sub-sectors, notably the Roman
Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Mormonism, Orthodox
Judaism and Islam institutionalize unequal treatment by gender and justify it
theologically.
In this study, we investigate the case of the Church of Scotland, the Scottish
national church, which is Protestant, Presbyterian in government and the largest
religious denomination in Scotland. Indeed it is one of the largest organizations
in the country with well over half a million members and an annual income
exceeding d111 m in 2003.
1
Interest in this particular case arises from the fact
that women have been employed as ministers in the Church of Scotland for over
30 years. The first woman was appointed as minister of a church congregation in
1972 and the denomination’s highest office, Moderator of the General
n
University of St. Andrews
nn
Heriot-Watt University
1
See the Church of Scotland (2004) for details. The current membership has steadily declined
from the post-war peak of 1.2 million members in 1955 (Smith, 1993; Voas, 2006). The rate of
decline is now around 2.75% per annum, a net annual average loss of approximately 17,000
members.
Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 54, No. 2, May 2007
r2007 The Authors
Journal compilation r2007 Scottish Economic Society. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd,
9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main St, Malden, MA, 02148, USA
195
Assembly,
2
was filled by a female for the first time in 2004. While the Church of
Scotland espouses a broadly egalitarian approach to remuneration, following
the Presbyterian principle of equality of ministers, a limited degree of
decentralization in pay determination is permitted at the congregational level
in the case of the more affluent churches. This generates scope for variation in
compensation for the narrowly defined and relatively homogeneous occupation
of parish minister.
Although the proportion of female ministers in the total stock continues to
rise, reflecting the fact that the share of female ministers entering parish ministry
exceeds that leaving or retiring; still only around 16% of ministers in the Church
of Scotland are women.
3
Continuing male domination raises the question of
whether this is due to employer discrimination on the demand side, or else the
self-selection of women into other professions on the supply side. Differences in
pre-labour market and religious socialization may, for example, lead potential
female candidates for parish ministry to have stronger preferences for secular
work relative to comparable men. Unfortunately, available data do not permit
us to study the question of occupational choice.
Instead, we test for systematic differences in ministerial remuneration by
gender within the Church of Scotland. Previous studies in this vein, chiefly by
sociologists using American data, have documented the existence of a gender
pay gap in mainline Protestant denominations (Carroll et al., 1983; Zikmund
et al., 1998; McMillan and Price, 2003), however there appears to be no parallel
research for denominations within the United Kingdom, or indeed the
European, religious sector. The recent introduction of a new National Stipend
Scheme by the Church of Scotland therefore provides an important opportunity
to analyse, in the European context, an experiment in pay determination for one
particular Protestant denomination. The Church of Scotland’s Scheme permits
sufficiently affluent congregations to make a voluntary (bonus) payment to their
minister in addition to the centrally funded standard remuneration. This
innovation is the focus of our empirical analysis using a single cross-section for
2004.
4
The organization of the remainder of this paper is as follows: Section II
outlines the institutional context. Section III describes the data set, paying
particular attention to the distribution of ministers by gender across congrega-
tions with different levels of ability to pay. Section IV motivates the estimation
of a bivariate probit model with sample selection and reports the results. Finally,
section V offers some concluding remarks and discusses further the importance
of the stipend in denominational performance.
2
The position of Moderator is held for 1 year only and primarily involves presiding at the
Church’s annual General Assembly. Interestingly, the first female moderator in the Church’s
history was a church elder and not an ordained minister.
3
The study excludes chaplains to hospitals, prisons, universities and the armed forces.
4
The year of the Scheme’s introduction.
I. SMITH, J. W. SAWKINS AND R. I. MOCHRIE196
r2007 The Authors
Journal compilation r2007 Scottish Economic Society

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