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Religion, longevity, and cooperation: The case of the craft guild

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  • Richardson, Gary
  • McBride, Michael

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:2:p:172-186
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    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. Baele, Lieven & Farooq, Moazzam & Ongena, Steven, 2014. "Of religion and redemption: Evidence from default on Islamic loans," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 141-159.
    4. Dessí, Roberta & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2016. "Merchant guilds, taxation and social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 90-110.
    5. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    6. Finley, Theresa & Koyama, Mark, 2016. "Plague, Politics, and Pogroms: The Black Death, Rule of Law, and the persecution of Jews in the Holy Roman Empire," MPRA Paper 72110, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. McBride, Michael & Skaperdas, Stergios, 2014. "Conflict, settlement, and the shadow of the future," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 75-89.
    8. Jared Rubin, 2009. "Social Insurance, Commitment, and the Origin of Law: Interest Bans in Early Christianity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 761-786, November.
    9. Raphaël Franck & Laurence Iannaccone, 2014. "Religious decline in the 20th century West: testing alternative explanations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 385-414, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Craft guilds Christianity Purgatory Reformation Rational-choice Free rider;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N64 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N74 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N8 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History

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