Ethics, Income and Religion

Kit-Chun Lam*, Bill WS Hung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the relationship between ethics and income among individuals of different religions in the HKSAR of China. The presence of both traditional Chinese religion and Christianity from the West makes our study particularly interesting. The content of ethical beliefs varies with religion and thus the effect of ethics on income may also vary across religion. Furthermore, a reverse causal relationship may run from income to ethics. Since culture and taste affect the consumption behavior of a person, depending on the religion of the person, a person with a higher income may or may not like to 'acquire' more ethics. Our empirical results find that there is indeed a simultaneous relationship between income and being ethical so that a single equation estimation of income on ethics and vice versa generates biased estimates. Using a two-stage instrumental variable estimation, our study finds that being ethical contributes to higher income for Christians and the non-religious group, but lowers it for people of traditional Chinese religion. On the other hand, an increase in income increases the likelihood of a person's being ethical for both Christians and the people of traditional Chinese religion, but reduces it for the non-religious group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-214
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Christianity
  • Ethics
  • Income
  • Religion
  • Traditional Chinese culture


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