To publish in Economics, marketing your paper is unfortunately very important. And it all starts with a catchy title. Some subjects can inspire you to absolutely great titles, like this one: "An Economist's Guide to Heaven." Dan Hamermesh could have penned that, but it is a paper by Nick Muller, Jo Anna Gray and Joe Stone.
The paper is not about how you can make sure the Pearly Gates are open to you, but rather it "offers an economic model of God and humanity as optimizing agents in the context of concrete belief archetypes (religious ‘contracts’) in Judeo-Christian theology." In plainer words, they study how belief about God influences the behavior of optimizing agents. In this paper, God optimizes, too, and believers know that. People care about private consumption, public goods and what God does to them, if they are believers. God benevolent, as He cares about public goods and likes to reward people instead of punishing them. Believers have a contract with God that entices them to provide public goods in exchange of godly rewards or punishments. Contracts can take four different forms, depending on the archetype within the Judeo-Christian belief system, which lead to different outcomes that can be tested using the General Social Science Survey.
Results are consistent with the model: strength of faith is irrelevant if there is no penalty in the contract, believers renege if there is no penalty, and contracts with penalty work, even if penalties are never exercised. What remains to be understood, though, is why there are believers in the first place.
The ECB should stop fearing the German