The Genesis of Democracy and Dictatorship
Chapter 4: The political economy of Russian Orthodoxy
The chapter argues that religion matters for the provision of public goods. Three normative foundations of Eastern Orthodox monasticism with strong economic implications are identified: (1) Solidarity; (2) Obedience; and (3) Universal discipline. A public goods game with a three-tier hierarchy is proposed and solved, in which these norms are modeled as treatments. Obedience and universal discipline facilitate the provision of threshold public goods in equilibrium, whereas solidarity does not. Empirical evidence is drawn from public goods experiments run with regional bureaucrats in Tomsk and Novosibirsk, Russia. The introduction of the same three norms as experimental treatments produces different results. The study finds that only universal discipline leads to the provision of threshold public goods, whereas solidarity and obedience do not. Unlike in Protestant societies, in Eastern Orthodox societies free-riding occurs at lower rather than higher hierarchical levels. Successful economic reforms in Eastern Orthodox countries start with the restructuring of the middle- and lower-ranked public sectors. Authoritarian persistence is defined by the commitment of the dictator to overprovide public goods.
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