The Economic History of Religion Conference

26 10 2018

I’m sharing the programme of the Economic History of Religion Conference currently taking place in Chicago. It looks like a very interesting conference, but I’m struck by the absence of any firm-level studies. As far as I can see, the papers are all dealing with macro-level phenomena (why did some nations or religious regions outperform others) and there is very little attention to what was going on at the meso level of the firm (which is my main focus as a business historian), let alone the micro level of the individual or the nano level (the various cognitive processes that one needs to consider in the course of studying the relationship between religion and economic behaviour). As someone who works in a business school, where the research focus is on the meso, micro, and nano levels, the focus on the macro level seems a bit narrow. There isn’t a single paper that looks at a specific firm or population of organizations.

I respect the work of all of the academics at this conference and have cited many of them in various places. However, I think the absence of firm level studies here will serve as a barrier to understanding the relationship between religion and economic growth, the dependent variable that is clearly of the most interest to the conference organizers.
October 26-27, 2018
Kellogg Global Hub, 2130
Sponsored by the Balzan Foundation and the Northwestern University
Center for Economic History
Joel Mokyr and Joseph Ferrie, co-directors

Conference Program and Schedule
Friday 26 October

8:00-8:45 Breakfast
8:45-9:00 Welcome

Joel Mokyr, Northwestern University

9:00-10:40 Session 1: The Global History of Religion

Jeanet Bentzen, University of Copenhagen, “Acts of God? Religiosity and Natural
Disasters Across Subnational World Districts.”Discussant: Melanie Meng Xue

Jonathan Schulz, Harvard University, “Why Europe? The Church, Kin-networks
and Institutional Development.”
Discussant: Ralf Meisenzahl

10:40-11:00 Break
11:00 -12:00 Keynote Address: Roland Bénabou, Princeton University, “Religion, Innovation, and Inequality.”
12:00-1:30 Lunch

1:30-3:10 Session 2: Reformation, Books, and Censorship

Jared Rubin, Chapman University, “A Time to Print, a Time to Reform.”
Discussant: Jeremiah Dittmar

Sascha O. Becker, University of Warwick, “Economic Effects of Catholic Censorship During the Counter-Reformation.”
Discussant: Mara Squicciarini

3:10-3:30 Break

3:30-5:10 Session 3: Religious Competition

Heyu Xiong and Yiling Zhao, Northwestern University, “Religious Competition
and Higher Education in the U.S.”
Discussant: Louis Cain

Davide Cantoni, University of Munich, Jeremiah Dittmar, London School of
Economics, and Noam Yuchtman, University of California, Berkeley, “Religious
Competition and Reallocation: The Political Economy of Secularization in the
Protestant Reformation.”
Discussant: Davide Ticchi
Saturday 27 October

8:00-9:00 Breakfast

9:00-10:40 Session 4: Religion and State Formation

Jeremiah Dittmar, London School of Economics and Ralf Meisenzahl, Board of
Governors of the Federal Reserve System, “The Reformation and the Origins of
the Modern State.”
Discussant: Mark Koyama

Mara Squicciarini, Bocconi University, “Devotion and Development: Religiosity,
Education, and Economic Progress in 19th-Century France.”
Discussant: Noel Johnson

10:40-11:00 Break

11:00-12:00 Keynote Address: Zvi Eckstein, IDC, Herzliya, “Child care and Human
Development: insights from Jewish History in Central and Eastern Europe, 1500–

12-1:00 Lunch

1:00 -2:40 Session 5: Religious Freedom and Economic Growth


Mark Koyama, George Mason and Noel Johnson, George Mason, “The State, Toleration, and Religious Freedom.”  Discussant: Erik Hornung

Eric Chaney, University of Oxford, “Science, Institutions and Religion:
Measuring the Intellectual Rise of the Western World.”
Discussant: Jared Rubin

2:40-3:00 Break

3:00-4:40 Session 6: Islam and Economic Development

Francesco Cinnirella, University of Southern Denmark, Alireza Naghavi,
University of Bologna, and Giovanni Prarolo, University of Bologna, “Islam,
Human Capital, and Innovation in Historical Spain.”
Discussant: Eric Chaney

Mohamed Saleh and Jean Tirole, Toulouse School of Economics, “Taxing
Unwanted Populations: Fiscal Policy and Conversions in Early Islam.”
Discussant: Noam Yuchtman

4:40-5:00 Conference Summary
5:00 Adjourn



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