economic development

In God's Name: Why Should Religious Freedom Affect Economic Prosperity?

By: Ilan Alon

Despite the evident role of religion in society and its impact on political, economic, and social life, research on the topic is practically nil in areas outside religion and politics. Economists in particular have been criticized for often ignoring the role of culture in favor of material explanations and are now being encouraged to pay more attention to the “spiritual” realm of the economy and other elements of culture, such as an “enterprising spirit.” Indeed, “spiritual capital” is hard to measure, but luckily institutional proxies exist—freedom of consciousness or freedom of religion—which can be seen as an antecedent of “spiritual capital” development. 

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The Ah-ha Moment: The Connection of Religious Freedom and Business

By: Brian Grim

Over lunch in downtown Washington DC, a Turkish trade representative puzzled, “We almost never put religion and business in the same sentence, so, what’s the connection between religious freedom and business?” Fair question, given that I was introducing him to the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. His ah-ha moment came about halfway through our meal, but for a different reason than mine had come. 

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How Religious Freedom Helps the Poor

By: Rebecca Shah

A few minutes’ drive from Bangalore’s international airport live Shanu Munisa and her husband, Imtiaz. Shanu and Imtiaz are Dalits (outcastes) who live in Razak Palaya, a predominantly Muslim village and one of the poorest communities in north Bangalore. Sitting in their half-finished hut, I asked Shanu, “Where do you think God is?” Looking up from the floor, Shanu replied, “He is here,” placing her hand on her chest. 

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Religious Freedom Promotes Economic Development

By: Timur Kuran

Economic development is driven by new ideas and risk taking. A disproportionate share of the innovations and entrepreneurship that raises living standards occurs in cities because urban environments offer particularly great opportunities for expressing new ideas freely, challenging established ways of doing things, and experimenting. By the same logic, restrictions on producing, sharing, or executing ideas can limit economic development. Religious restrictions can hold back economic development by constraining what can be discussed, by narrowing the social spaces in which new ideas can be shared, by limiting communication among social groups, and by ruling out certain ideas merely because of their religious associations. 

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