The effect of church tax on church membership



In their study “The effect of church tax on church membership” Teemu Lyytikäinen and Torsten Santavirta examine the effect of church tax on the church membership decision using Finnish data.

Church Tax
Finland, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland all impose some sort of church tax for members.
Membership or affiliation to a state church in Finland implies that an individual is allowed to participate in religious services provided by the church and contributes to the church’s finances through payroll tax. The tax rate is between 0.75 and 2.25 percent of the individual’s taxable earned income (wage and certain benefits less deductions) varying across municipalities.

Effect on Church Membership
Our estimates for the price elasticity of church membership suggest that, even though many people who leave church may perceive the high cost as the principal reason for opting out, at the level of the whole population membership decisions are not very sensitive to economic factors.



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