State and Religion
AbstractState and religion have historically had an uneasy relationship, at times being close allies, at others harsh adversaries, and at still others largely independent. This paper develops an economic model of this relationship, where the state's objective is to maximize net tax revenue. Religious goods benefit the state in two ways: first, they provide utility to citizens, thus allowing the state to extract more taxes before running up against citizens' reservation utility (the point at which they would revolt), and second, they potentially provide legitimacy to the state, thereby lowering the costs of tax collection. If the latter effect is strong enough, the state may find it optimal to take control of religion, either to enhance its legitimizing effect, or to suppress its delegitimizing effect. Greater competition in the religion market and democratic polity make it less likely for the state to control religion. To evaluate the model's implications, we use recent cross-country data on the relationship between religion and state, including variables from the "Religion and State Project" and measures coded from the 2001, 2003, and 2005 International Religious Freedom reports. We also examine in more detail some of the paradigmatic cases indicated by the model, presenting various types of evidence from current and historical examples of each case.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2008-04.
Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2008
Date of revision: Mar 2009
Publication status: Forthcoming in the Journal of Comparative Economics
Note: We acknowledge the comments of participants in the Economics Department Brownbag Seminar, February 7, 2008. We especially appreciate the comments of Dhammika Dharmapala, Dick Langlois, Lanse Minkler, Jared Rubin, and Christian Zimmermann. We also acknowledge the research assistance of Moussa Diop, Parag Waknis, and Michael Stone.
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Church; state; religion; legitimacy; power;
Other versions of this item:
- H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
- P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
- N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
- Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-02-09 (All new papers)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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