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The New Economics of Religion

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Working paper that surveys current research in the economics of religion.
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... It is emphasized that religiosity can influence economic performance and behaviour. Economic studies of religion can contribute in three ways (Iyer, 2015): (I) they show how economic and statistical tools can be used to evaluate the role of religion in society; (II) they continue to point out the economics of non-market behavior illustrating the role that norms, values, social capital, and 'spiritual capital' may play in influencing human behavior by affecting both beliefs and actions; (III) they show how culture more broadly, whether through religion or other types of cultural beliefs, can affect economic systems. As will be shown in the following section, various studies examine the impact of religion on economic growth and development and vice versa. ...
... The economics of religion is best defined as the use of the tools of economic analysis to study phenomena related to religion, where religion can be either the outcome of interest (religion-as-dependent-variable) or the influencing factor on the outcome of interest (religion-as-independent-variable) (North, 2018). This is consistent with Iyer (2015), who explains that the economics of religion is research that uses the tools and methods of economics to examine religion as a dependent variable or as an independent variable for other socio-economic outcomes. Furthermore, economics of religion must be distinguished from what might be called 'religious economics' which is the use of religious ideas to provide social commentary on economic systems or behaviors (Iyer, 2015). ...
... This is consistent with Iyer (2015), who explains that the economics of religion is research that uses the tools and methods of economics to examine religion as a dependent variable or as an independent variable for other socio-economic outcomes. Furthermore, economics of religion must be distinguished from what might be called 'religious economics' which is the use of religious ideas to provide social commentary on economic systems or behaviors (Iyer, 2015). Although the economics of religion is intellectually based on the work of Smith and Weber, it became a "scientific" field of study when a quantitative, mathematically-based methodology for social surveys developed during and after World War II and was applied to sociological issues (McCleary, 2011). ...
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Conference Paper
The economics of religion has become a specific field of economics in recent decades. From households to markets, various economic entities, religious groups, and institutions are analysed. It is emphasized that religiosity can influence economic performance and behaviour. In addition, various studies examine the impact of religion on economic growth and development and vice versa. Islamic finance has only recently established itself in the contemporary financial world. Islamic finance, led by Islamic banks, is considered more socially responsible than conventional banking due to the profit and loss sharing paradigm. It can be said that Islamic finance isone of the attempts to develop religion- based businesses. The purpose of this study is to identify and analyse the impact of religiosity on consumer attitudes and preferences toward Islamic financial services. Islamic finance is one of the fastest growingsegments of the global financial industry today. Many factors have contributed to the strong growth of Islamic finance. Nevertheless, religion can be considered as the most important reason why customers prefer Islamic financial institutions, i.e. Islamicbanks. From the literature analysed, a huge number of research has stated that religion is a main reason for using Islamic banking services. On the other hand, some studies show that religiosity does not play a major role in the selection criteria for Islamic banks.In this paper, the research method of a literature review is used. Theoretical and empirical studies show different approaches, methods and results in analysing the relationship between religiosity and Islamic banking. The main findings of this research are the comparative analysis of different empirical scientific studies on the impact of religiosity on consumers' behaviour, attitudes and preferences towards Islamic banking products and services. It is expected that the results of this study will contribute to a better understanding of religious consumers' behaviour towards Islamic banking products.
... Recently there have been several reviews of the topic. See for instance Iyer (2015), Finke (2013), or Silvestri and Mayall (2015). However, prior to 2000, few attempts tried to include religion and culture into the larger body of research and theory on social conflict. ...
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Chapter
This chapter surveys the literature on the economics of religion, with a particular emphasis on its association with conflict. There is a long tradition of work on the relationship between conflict and ethnic diversity culminating with Horowitz’s seminal Ethnic Groups in Conflict. The effect of religion on conflict has generated less attention. Recently there have been several reviews of the topic. See, for instance, Iyer (2016), Finke (2013), or Silvestri and Mayall (2015). However, prior to 2000, few attempts tried to include religion and culture into the larger body of research and theory on social conflict. Samuel P. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” (1996) thesis is the basic reference of this literature, the same way as Weber’s classic The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) is the focal point of the empirical study of the relationship between religion and economic development. Borrowing partly from an idea put forward by British-American historian, Bernard Lewis (1990), Huntington became the most prominent voice claiming that religious and cultural identities would be the main driver of international conflict in the new world order following the end of the Cold War. At the core of Huntington’s clashing civilizations lay religion. He argued that the civilization of Western Christianity is different from that of Eastern Orthodox Christianity; Eastern Christianity is distinct from Islam; Islam represents a fundamentally distinct civilization from Hindu; and so forth. The “clash of civilizations” occurs at two levels. One level points to the civilization divides across countries and regions, the other refers to the “fault lines between civilizations” within countries or territories. Thus, the civilizational fault line(s) within countries leads to conflicts just as they do across countries. Huntington recognizes that the argument is over-simplified, yet he concludes that “countries with similar cultures are coming together” while “countries with different cultures are coming apart.” He argues that civilizations compete on the international scene and that this competition can turn into violent conflict, most importantly because of the different religions that have formed these civilizations. In other words, civilization fault lines are a source of conflict; civilization homogeneity is a source of unity and peace (Huntington 1996).
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