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

  • Richardson, Gary
  • McBride, Michael

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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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 71 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 172-186

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:2:p:172-186
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. 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.
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  3. McCleary, Rachel & Barro, Robert, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth across Countries," Scholarly Articles 3708464, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  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.
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  7. Richardson, G., 2000. "Brand Names Before the Industrial Revolution," Papers 00-01-09, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  8. Richardson, Gary, 2001. "A Tale of Two Theories: Monopolies and Craft Guilds in Medieval England and Modern Imagination," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(02), pages 217-242, June.
  9. 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.
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  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
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  16. Greif, Avner, 1998. "Historical and Comparative Institutional Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 80-84, May.
  17. 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.
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