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State and Religion

Author

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  • Metin Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

State and religion have historically had an uneasy relationship, at times being close allies, at others harsh adversaries, and at still others largely independent. This paper develops an economic model of this relationship, where the state's objective is to maximize net tax revenue. Religious goods benefit the state in two ways: first, they provide utility to citizens, thus allowing the state to extract more taxes before running up against citizens' reservation utility (the point at which they would revolt), and second, they potentially provide legitimacy to the state, thereby lowering the costs of tax collection. If the latter effect is strong enough, the state may find it optimal to take control of religion, either to enhance its legitimizing effect, or to suppress its delegitimizing effect. Greater competition in the religion market and democratic polity make it less likely for the state to control religion. To evaluate the model's implications, we use recent cross-country data on the relationship between religion and state, including variables from the "Religion and State Project" and measures coded from the 2001, 2003, and 2005 International Religious Freedom reports. We also examine in more detail some of the paradigmatic cases indicated by the model, presenting various types of evidence from current and historical examples of each case.

Suggested Citation

  • Metin Cosgel & Thomas Miceli, 2008. "State and Religion," Working papers 2008-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2008-04
    Note: We acknowledge the comments of participants in the Economics Department Brownbag Seminar, February 7, 2008. We especially appreciate the comments of Dhammika Dharmapala, Dick Langlois, Lanse Minkler, Jared Rubin, and Christian Zimmermann. We also acknowledge the research assistance of Moussa Diop, Parag Waknis, and Michael Stone.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2005. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1331-1370.
    2. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 2006. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521027922.
    3. Rachel M. McCleary & Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Religion and Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 49-72, Spring.
    4. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
    5. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Corrigenda [Introduction to the Economics of Religion]," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 1941-1941, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Coşgel, Metin M. & Miceli, Thomas J. & Rubin, Jared, 2012. "The political economy of mass printing: Legitimacy and technological change in the Ottoman Empire," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 357-371.
    2. Janine Höhener & Christoph A. Schaltegger, 2012. "Religionsökonomie: eine Übersicht," CREMA Working Paper Series 2012-08, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    3. Naghavi, Alireza & Pignataro, Giuseppe, 2015. "Theocracy and resilience against economic sanctions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 1-12.
    4. repec:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:1:p:20-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Coşgel, Metin & Histen, Matthew & Miceli, Thomas J. & Yıldırım, Sadullah, 2018. "State and religion over time," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 20-34.
    6. Cosgel, Metin & Miceli, Thomas & Ahmed, Rasha, 2009. "Law, state power, and taxation in Islamic history," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 704-717, September.
    7. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Church; state; religion; legitimacy; power;

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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