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Lessons from Delphi: Religious markets and spiritual capitals

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  • Iannaccone, Laurence R.
  • Haight, Colleen E.
  • Rubin, Jared

Abstract

We develop a generalized theory of religious markets and apply its insights to archaic Greece, ancient Israel, and modern America. Our starting point is a simple game-theoretic model in which secular leaders enhance their power by influencing the location of sacred places. The model includes standard equilibria - such as pure competition and state-sponsored monopoly - as well as a novel equilibrium, which we call the neutral nexus, wherein a sacred place gains widespread authority precisely because it lies beyond the centers of secular power. The nexus can promote cooperation, innovation, and exchange, especially where markets are weak and power is fragmented. It can also sustain random divination - a surprisingly effective way to manage conflict and risk. The sanctuary of Delphi illustrates the real-world relevance of the neutral nexus, as does Israel's tabernacle of Shiloh.

Suggested Citation

  • Iannaccone, Laurence R. & Haight, Colleen E. & Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Lessons from Delphi: Religious markets and spiritual capitals," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 326-338, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:77:y:2011:i:3:p:326-338
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Iannaccone, Laurence R & Finke, Roger & Stark, Rodney, 1997. "Deregulating Religion: The Economics of Church and State," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(2), pages 350-364, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Binzel, Christine & Carvalho, Jean-Paul, 2013. "Education, Social Mobility and Religious Movements: A Theory of the Islamic Revival in Egypt," IZA Discussion Papers 7259, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Erik O. Kimbrough & Alexander Vostroknutov, 2012. "Rules, Rule-Following, and Cooperation," Discussion Papers dp12-15, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    3. Kimbrough, Erik O. & Rubin, Jared & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Shields, Timothy W., 2015. "Commitment problems in conflict resolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 33-45.
    4. Kimbrough, Erik O. & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Shields, Timothy W., 2014. "When parity promotes peace: Resolving conflict between asymmetric agents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 96-108.
    5. Ticku, R. & Shrivastava, A. & Iyer, S., 2018. "Economic Shocks and Temple Desecrations in Medieval India," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1862, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    6. repec:kap:copoec:v:29:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10602-018-9262-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Constantine Bourlakis, 2016. "The Emperor?s New Mind: On Constantine?s I Decision to Legalize Christianity," International Journal of Social Sciences, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences, vol. 5(1), pages 47-59, February.
    8. Erik O. Kimbrough & Roman M. Sheremeta & Timothy Shields, 2011. "Resolving Conflicts by a Random Device," Working Papers 11-09, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    9. Douglas Allen & Vera Lantinova, 2013. "The ancient olympics as a signal of city-state strength," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 23-44, February.

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