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Faculty of Economics

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Iyer, S.

Religion and Discrimination: A Review Essay of Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom

Journal of Economic Literature, forthcoming


Abstract: Noel D. Johnson and Mark Koyama’s book examines the links between religion, state action and the development of liberalism in medieval Europe. It discusses a model of ‘conditional toleration’; how the interaction between religion and state influences persecution and discrimination against minorities; and how religious freedom eventually paved the way for scientific advances, liberalism and economic growth. It tackles issues such as fiscal capacity, anti-Semitism in Europe, plagues including the Black Death, heresy in the Spanish Inquisition, witchcraft trials, the Holocaust, climate shocks and the growth of cities with emergent religious minorities. It discusses these issues for a range of countries in medieval Europe, providing rich historical detail and interpretive depth for its main argument. This is a deeply evocative book, which makes an important contribution to the new economics of religion. Carefully researched and thoughtfully crafted, the themes it discusses and the ideas it raises have relevance not only for medieval European societies with which it is principally concerned, but also for contemporary economies everywhere.

JEL Codes: Z12, N13, N15, N33, P16

Author links: Sriya Iyer  

Publisher's Link:

Cambridge Working Paper in Economics Version of Paper: Religion and Discrimination: A Review Essay of Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom, Iyer, S., (2020)

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