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Religion, Longevity, and Cooperation: The Case of the Craft Guild

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  • Gary Richardson
  • Michael McBride

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

  • Gary Richardson & Michael McBride, 2008. "Religion, Longevity, and Cooperation: The Case of the Craft Guild," NBER Working Papers 14004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. McCleary, Rachel & Barro, Robert, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth across Countries," Scholarly Articles 3708464, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. 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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    7. Richardson, G., 2000. "Brand Names Before the Industrial Revolution," Papers 00-01-09, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Theresa Finley & Mark Koyama, 2018. "Plague, Politics, and Pogroms: The Black Death, the Rule of Law, and the Persecution of Jews in the Holy Roman Empire," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(2), pages 253-277.
    6. Michael McBride & Stergios Skaperdas, 2009. "Conflict, Settlement, and the Shadow of the Future," CESifo Working Paper Series 2897, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. 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.
    8. Dessí, Roberta & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2016. "Merchant guilds, taxation and social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 90-110.
    9. 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.
    10. repec:eee:deveco:v:134:y:2018:i:c:p:416-427 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. 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

    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-
    • N84 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N94 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: 1913-
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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