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Don was just posting on innovation and liberty, and I think this is one of the key pieces in that story. It's not simply about free markets when we talk about innovation - it's free inquiry too. In a lot of cases, guaranteeing free inquiry is coterminous with the freedom of religion, since religion has historically posed some of the starkest restraints on free inquiry.

I would expect to see a correlation. A society that allows religious liberty would be more likely to also allow economic liberty than one that doesn't.

Looking at development indices, it seems like countries either do most things right or most things wrong, with little middle ground. Liberty, it seems, is often treated as a package deal. All or nothing.

I hope you report on some of the more interesting findings from the conference!


It would be great to consider:

(i) the correlation between particular religion systems and economic development (think Max Weber)

(ii) the correlation between particular religion systems and religious freedom

The challenge is to avoid political correctness.

I think to aggregate all religious systems under a single "religion" banner is unhelpful.

There are differences between religions, and I daresay it is the differences (being the distinguishing factor) which are important. One can of course apply the typical Austrian criticism on aggregation to this practice.

It is intellectually fairer to discuss each religion as purporting different world views. Atheism, agnosticism, Confucianism (which was initially conceived as a philosophy)... all these are competing world views too. Associated with each of these world views are certain values, which may or may not be shared by other belief systems.

The key question is then - which worldviews are best in fostering economic development? Which kind of values are crucial for economic development?

I think research into such topics would be meaningful.

If you have religious freedom, you get the emergence of a religion spontaneous order; without it, meaning typically the dominance of one religion, you get something more like a hierarchical network.

It should not be surprising if we find that a culture that accepts one form of spontaneous order accepts another. Equally, we should not be surprised if we find that cultures that reject one form of spontaneous order reject others.

Thus, one would expect places with religious freedom to tend to be more pro-spontaneous order, which would spill over into more support for the economy as a spontaneous order. Since the religion spontaneous order emerges from a lack of regulation (by definition), this association is made, and the market order will tend to be freer, resulting in greater wealth production.

From a purely economic perspective...either everything is a religion or nothing is a religion. It all boils down to whether you have the freedom to trade one thing that you value for another thing that you value even more.

I sacrifice my limited time to Wikipedia in exchange for something I value more than the alternative uses of my time. Is Wikipedia my god? Sure! Why not? I worship it and sacrifice to it. Therefore, show me your receipts and I'll show you your gods. Everything is sacrifice for abundance sake.

Speaking of Wikipedia...I just created an entry for the scope of government...


Man, any excuse to share that passage by Herbert Spencer. That easily has to be the longest quote on Wikipedia...which is why I'm surprised that it hasn't been challenged yet.

I also created an entry for..."Kludgeocracy"


This passage literally made me chuckle out loud when I read it...

"Conservatives over the last few years have increasingly claimed that America is, in Hayek’s terms, on the road to serfdom. This is ridiculous, for it ascribes vastly greater coherence to American government than we have ever achieved. If anything, we have arrived at a form of government with no ideological justification whatsoever." - Steven Teles

Dang, I just chuckled again.

I'll float a hypothesis that runs against the current. Viz., if a person is prohibited from leaving his religious community, either by internal or external pressures, he is more likely to deal in a consistent and socially accepted way than if he can 'exit' to avoid repercussions of socially undesired actions - cheating, 'gouging', contraband, etc. This predictability in the market may contribute to economic growth.

In other words, this is a special class of iterated games.

What I want to see is the relationship between economic growth and religious freedom, ceteris paribus. There are many other -- included freedom related -- determinants of economic growth. My thought is that economic freedoms are highly correlated with religious freedom. So we have a multicollinearity problem.

A priori I think that oppressing people of particular religions reduces the effective availability of innovative/entrepreneurial talent.

The role of different religions within their economiies and societies is discussed at length in Comparative Economics in a Transforming World Economy in relation to the concept of the new traditional economy by me and my wife, Marina. Greater religious diversity associated with freedom of religion should allow greater diversity of economic practices based on religion within a society, presumably offering more alternatives.

Obviously, there are ethical issues of conducting a trial to see if this would hold true in humans. However, it is a really interesting thought that a normally benign vitamin could cause this!

I had only just sent a tweet out telling people to never stop asking questions. Mind you I think I was partly inspired by the fact that you ask so many on this website.

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