Given their citizens’ religiosity, the presence of religious parties, and the salience of religion in the politics of India and Pakistan, it is likely that politicians in both of these countries vary considerably in how religious they are. How do these differences influence their political and policy choices? We know surprisingly little about this question. This paper uses data from survey experiments fielded to politicians in India (in 2019) and Pakistan (in 2018) to examine how religiosity is correlated with politicians’ risk-taking behaviors. Given that research finds they are correlated in citizens and the ubiquity of both risk and religion in politics, understanding this relationship is important. The experimental data reveal that in both countries highly religious and less religious politicians make very different choices on a risky policy decision. Highly religious politicians are risk-seeking in India but risk-averse in Pakistan. While the less religious politicians approximate rational actors, the highly religious politicians violate both rational actor and prospect theory decision-making models.

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