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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