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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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    Cited by:

    1. Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico, 2020. "COVID-19, Race, and Redlining," Department of Economics 0175, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    2. Baele, L. & Farooq, M. & Ongena, S., 2012. "Of Religion and Redemption : Evidence from Default on Islamic Loans (Replaces CentER DP 2010-136)," Other publications TiSEM 44a4a19c-3959-4e99-b96b-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    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. Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico, 2020. "COVID-19, Race, and Redlining," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 145, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    5. 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.
    6. Dessí, Roberta & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2016. "Merchant guilds, taxation and social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 90-110.
    7. Coşgel, Metin M. & Langlois, Richard N. & Miceli, Thomas J., 2020. "Identity, religion, and the state: The origin of theocracy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 608-622.
    8. 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.
    9. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    10. Arnstein Aassve & Guido Alfani & Francesco Gandolfi & Marco Le Moglie, 2021. "Epidemics and trust: The case of the Spanish Flu," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(4), pages 840-857, April.
    11. Mark Koyama, 2020. "A review essay on The European Guilds," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 33(1), pages 277-287, March.
    12. 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.
    13. Baele, L. & Farooq, M. & Ongena, S., 2012. "Of Religion and Redemption : Evidence from Default on Islamic Loans (Replaces EBC DP 2010-032)," Other publications TiSEM a4c6f21b-b35f-4fec-94cc-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    14. 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.
    15. Seror, Avner, 2018. "A theory on the evolution of religious norms and economic prohibition," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 416-427.
    16. 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.

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    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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