Forbidden Fruits: The Political Economy of Science, Religion, and Growth - FAKKIR

Forbidden Fruits: The Political Economy of Science, Religion, and Growth

FAKKIR.XYZ | JURNAL – This paper analyzes the joint dynamics of religious beliefs and scientific-economic development. It emphasizes in particular how this coevolution is shaped by (and feeds back on) political con‡icts and coalition formation, along both religious and income lines. As part of our motivating evidence, we also uncover a new fact: in both international and cross-state U.S. data, there is a significant negative relationship between religiosity and innovativeness (patents per capita), even after controlling for the standard empirical determinants of the latter.

To shed light on the workings of the science-religion-politics nexus and its growth and distributional implications, the paper develops a model with three key features: (i) the recurrent arrival of scienti…c discoveries which, if widely di¤used and implemented, generate productivity gains but sometimes also erode existing religious beliefs (a source of utility for some agents) by contradicting important aspects of the doctrine; (ii) a government that can allow such ideas and innovations to spread, or spend resources to censor them and impede their di¤usion; (iii) a religious organization or sector (Church or churches) that can, at a cost, undertake an adaptation of the doctrine that renders it more compatible with the new knowledge.

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