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The Marketplace of Christianity

Author

Listed:
  • Robert B. Ekelund Jr.

    () (Auburn University)

  • Robert F. Hebert

    () (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

  • Robert D. Tollison

    () (Clemson University)

Abstract

This startlingly original (and sure to be controversial) account of the evolution of Christianity shows that the economics of religion has little to do with counting the money in the collection basket and much to do with understanding the background of today's religious and political divisions. Since religion is a set of organized beliefs, and a church is an organized body of worshipers, it's natural to use a science that seeks to explain the behavior of organization—economics—to understand the development of organized religion. The Marketplace of Christianity applies the tools of economic theory to illuminate the emergence of Protestantism in the sixteenth century and to examine contemporary religion-influenced issues, including evolution and gay marriage. The Protestant Reformation, the authors argue, can be seen as a successful penetration of a religious market dominated by a monopoly firm—the Catholic Church. The Ninety-five Theses nailed to the church door in Wittenberg by Martin Luther raised the level of competition within Christianity to a breaking point. The Counter-Reformation, the Catholic reaction, continued the competitive process, which came to include "product differentiation" in the form of doctrinal and organizational innovation. Economic theory shows us how Christianity evolved to satisfy the changing demands of consumers—worshipers. The authors of The Marketplace of Christianity avoid value judgments about religion. They take preferences for religion as given and analyze its observable effects on society and the individual. They provide the reader with clear and nontechnical background information on economics and the economics of religion before focusing on the Reformation and its aftermath. Their analysis of contemporary hot-button issues—science vs. religion, liberal vs. conservative, clerical celibacy, women and gay clergy, gay marriage—offers a vivid illustration of the potential of economic analysis to contribute to our understanding of religion.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert B. Ekelund Jr. & Robert F. Hebert & Robert D. Tollison, 2008. "The Marketplace of Christianity," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550717, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262550717
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Mariya Aleksynska & Barry Chiswick, 2013. "The determinants of religiosity among immigrants and the native born in Europe," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 563-598, December.
    2. Spenkuch, Jörg & Tillmann, Philipp, 2014. "Elite Influence? Religion, Economics, and the Rise of the Nazis," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100491, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Martin Paldam & Erich Gundlach, 2013. "The religious transition. A long-run perspective," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 105-123, July.
    4. Marc von der Ruhr & Joseph P. Daniels, 2012. "Examining megachurch growth: free riding, fit, and faith," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 39(5), pages 357-372, April.
    5. Panu Poutvaara & Andreas Wagener, 2010. "The invisible hand plays dice: multiple equilibria in sects markets," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 483-502, December.
    6. Benito Arruñada, 2010. "Protestants and Catholics: Similar Work Ethic, Different Social Ethic," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(547), pages 890-918, September.
    7. M. Maloney & Abdulkadir Civan & Mary Maloney, 2010. "Model of religious schism with application to Islam," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 142(3), pages 441-460, March.
    8. Jared Rubin, 2014. "Printing and Protestants: An Empirical Test of the Role of Printing in the Reformation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 270-286, May.
    9. Lehrer, Evelyn L. & Chen, Yu, 2012. "Delayed Entry into First Marriage: Further Evidence on the Becker-Landes-Michael Hypothesis," IZA Discussion Papers 6729, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Vikas Kumar, 2012. "Cartels in the Kautiliya Arthasastra," Czech Economic Review, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, vol. 6(1), pages 59-79, March.
    11. Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2010. "The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence from Contemporary Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 330, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    12. 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.
    13. Hanson, Gordon H. & Xiang, Chong, 2013. "Exporting Christianity: Governance and doctrine in the globalization of US denominations," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 301-320.
    14. Olimid, Anca Parmena, 2010. "Religious affiliation and economic development: a recent literature review," MPRA Paper 21101, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Aleksandar Tomic, 2010. "Nations, taxes and religion: Did Mohammad have it right?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 142(3), pages 461-464, March.
    16. Koyama, Mark, 2010. "Evading the 'Taint of Usury': The usury prohibition as a barrier to entry," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 420-442, October.
    17. Charles North, 2013. "Robert B. Ekelund Jr., Robert D. Tollison: Economic origins of Roman Christianity," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 154(3), pages 333-335, March.
    18. Francisco Pino & Jordi Vidal-Robert, 2014. "Habemus Papam ?Polarization and Conflict in the Papal States," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2014-27, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Christianity; Protestant Reformation; economic analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines

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