EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Why did pre-modern states adopt Big-God religions?

Stergios Skaperdas and Samarth Vaidya

Public Choice, 2020, vol. 182, issue 3, No 8, 373-394

Abstract: Abstract Over the past two millennia successful pre-modern states in Eurasia adopted and cultivated Big-God religions that emphasize (i) the ruler’s legitimacy as divinely ordained and (ii) a morality adapted for large-scale societies that can have positive economic effects. We make sense of that development by building on previous research that has conceptualized pre-modern states as maximizing the ruler’s profit. We model the interaction of rulers and subjects who have both material and psychological payoffs, the latter emanating from religious identity. Overall, religion reduces the cost of controlling subjects through the threat of violence, increases production, increases tax revenue, and reduces banditry. A Big-God ruler, who also is a believer, has stronger incentives to invest in expanding the number of believers and the intensity of belief, as well as investing in state capacity. Furthermore, such investments often are complementary, mutually reinforcing one another, thus leading to an evolutionary advantage for rulers that adopted Big-God religions.

Keywords: Morality; Legitimacy; Religion; Ruler; State capacity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H0 N40 Z12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s11127-019-00681-9 Abstract (text/html)
Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

Related works:
Working Paper: Why Did Pre-Modern States Adopt Big-God Religions? (2019) Downloads
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:182:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-019-00681-9

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from
http://www.springer. ... ce/journal/11127/PS2

DOI: 10.1007/s11127-019-00681-9

Access Statistics for this article

Public Choice is currently edited by WIlliam F. Shughart II

More articles in Public Choice from Springer
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Sonal Shukla () and Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing ().

 
Page updated 2021-01-23
Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:182:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-019-00681-9