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Religion, Longevity, and Cooperation: The Case of the Craft Guild

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  • Gary Richardson
  • Michael McBride

Abstract

When the mortality rate is high, repeated interaction alone may not sustain cooperation, and religion may play an important role in shaping economic institutions. This insight explains why during the fourteenth century, when plagues decimated populations and the church promoted the doctrine of purgatory, guilds that bundled together religious and occupational activities dominated manufacturing and commerce. During the sixteenth century, the disease environment eased, and the Reformation dispelled the doctrine of purgatory, necessitating the development of new methods of organizing industry. The logic underlying this conclusion has implications for the study of institutions, economics, and religion throughout history and in the developing world today.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14004.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Publication status: published as Richardson, Gary & McBride, Michael, 2009. "Religion, longevity, and cooperation: The case of the craft guild," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 172-186, August.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14004

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  1. Richardson, G., 2000. "Brand Names Before the Industrial Revolution," Papers 00-01-09, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  2. Eli Berman, 1998. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," NBER Working Papers 6715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
  4. Abramitzky, Ran, 2007. "The Limits of Equality: An Economic Analysis of the Israeli Kibbutz," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(02), pages 495-499, June.
  5. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
  6. Richardson, Gary, 2005. "The Prudent Village: Risk Pooling Institutions in Medieval English Agriculture," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(02), pages 386-413, June.
  7. Greif, Avner & Milgrom, Paul & Weingast, Barry R, 1994. "Coordination, Commitment, and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Guild," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 745-76, August.
  8. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Corrigenda [Introduction to the Economics of Religion]," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 1941-1941, December.
  9. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  10. McCleary, Rachel & Barro, Robert, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth across Countries," Scholarly Articles 3708464, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Richardson, G., 2000. "A Tale of Two Theories: Monopolies and Craft Guilds in Medieval England and Modern Imagination," Papers 00-01-10, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  12. Greif, Avner, 1998. "Historical and Comparative Institutional Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 80-84, May.
  13. Robert Jerome & Kristina Terkun & Robert Horn & Bridget Butkevich, 2008. "Self-Flagellation and Utility Maximization," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 307-318.
  14. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  15. Rachel M. McCleary & Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Religion and Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 49-72, Spring.
  16. Richardson, Gary, 2004. "Guilds, laws, and markets for manufactured merchandise in late-medieval England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 1-25, January.
  17. Greif, Avner, 1992. "Institutions and International Trade: Lessons from the Commercial Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 128-33, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael McBride & Stergios Skaperdas, 2009. "Conflict, Settlement, and the Shadow of the Future," Working Papers 080922, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  2. Baele, L. & Farooq, M. & Ongena, S., 2012. "Of Religion and Redemption: Evidence from Default on Islamic Loans (Replaces CentER DP 2010-136)," Discussion Paper 2012-014, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Raphaƫl Franck & Laurence Iannaccone, 2014. "Religious decline in the 20th century West: testing alternative explanations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 385-414, June.
  4. Vikas Kumar, 2013. "A model of secularism in the state of nature," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 1199-1212, February.
  5. Baele, Lieven & Farooq, Moazzam & Ongena, Steven, 2011. "Of Religion and Redemption: Evidence from Default on Islamic Loans," CEPR Discussion Papers 8504, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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