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Religion and Comparative Development

The Genesis of Democracy and Dictatorship

Theocharis Grigoriadis

Religion and Comparative Development is the first analytical endeavor on religion and government that incorporates microeconomic modeling of democracy and dictatorship as well as empirical linkages between religious norms and the bureaucratic provision of public goods within the framework of survey data analysis and public goods experiments. Moreover, it explores the rising significance of religion in Middle East and post-Soviet politics, as well as in current migration, security and party developments in the United States and Europe alike through these lenses.
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Chapter 6: Conclusions

Theocharis Grigoriadis


This book treats religion as an institutional phenomenon and questions conventional approaches in modeling religion, religiosity, and political institutions. The distinction between collectivism and individualism has been crucial for the development of this thesis. We provide the following definitions of collectivism: (1) High dependence on public goods by citizens; (2) Overprovision in public goods experiments by bureaucrats; and (3) Adherence to social welfare activity of the Church by priests. From these three definitions, only the third one refers to an explicitly religious institution, the Church. The first two definitions are drawn from Chapters 2 and 4, but they also underpin my analysis for the rest of the book. Modeling religious collectives as economic systems explains wealth differences across countries and why some countries are democracies, while others are dictatorships.

I rank five world religions – Judaism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Islam, and Protestantism – on the collectivism–individualism axis such that Islam Eastern Orthodoxy Roman Catholicism Judaism Protestantism. In their transition from backwardness to modernization, states with different religious majorities reach different political–economic equilibria. The more collectivist the religion of the majority, the more centralized the economy and the less representative the polity. From a game-theoretic perspective, modernization occurs as a commitment device that disciplines the leader toward the provision of more public goods so that he can stay in power. Moreover, democracy occurs at lower levels of hierarchical control, underdevelopment at intermediate ones, while centralization occurs at higher levels of hierarchical control.

Furthermore, religious identity is...

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