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State and religion

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  • Cosgel, Metin
  • Miceli, Thomas J.

Abstract

State 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 de-legitimizing 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Cosgel, Metin & Miceli, Thomas J., 2009. "State and religion," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 402-416, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:37:y:2009:i:3:p:402-416
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2005. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1331-1370.
    2. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 2006. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521027922.
    3. 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.
    4. Rachel M. McCleary & Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Religion and Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 49-72, Spring.
    5. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2013. "Legal centralization and the birth of the secular state," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 959-978.
    2. Coşgel, Metin & Histen, Matthew & Miceli, Thomas J. & Yıldırım, Sadullah, 2018. "State and religion over time," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 20-34.
    3. Cosgel, Metin & Miceli, Thomas & Ahmed, Rasha, 2009. "Law, state power, and taxation in Islamic history," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 704-717, September.
    4. Coşgel, Metin M. & Miceli, Thomas J. & Rubin, Jared, 2012. "The political economy of mass printing: Legitimacy and technological change in the Ottoman Empire," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 357-371.
    5. Naghavi, Alireza & Pignataro, Giuseppe, 2015. "Theocracy and resilience against economic sanctions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 1-12.
    6. Janine Höhener & Christoph A. Schaltegger, 2012. "Religionsökonomie: eine Übersicht," CREMA Working Paper Series 2012-08, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    State Religion Church Legitimacy Loyalty Market concentration Democracy Power;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

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