Religious freedom has become an emblematic value in the West. Embedded in constitutions and championed by politicians and thinkers across the political spectrum, it is to many an absolute value, something beyond question. Yet how it emerged, and why, remains widely misunderstood. Tracing the history of religious persecution from the Fall of Rome to the present-day, Noel D. Johnson and Mark Koyama provide a novel explanation of the birth of religious liberty. This book treats the subject in an integrative way by combining economic reasoning with historical evidence from medieval and early modern Europe. The authors elucidate the economic and political incentives that shaped the actions of political leaders during periods of state building and economic growth.
'A profound new argument about the relationship between political power and religion in the making of the modern world. If you want to know where the liberty you currently enjoy, for now, came from, this is the book to read.'
James Robinson, Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict, University of Chicago
'Johnson and Koyama investigate the fascinating intersection of the state and religion in late medieval and early modern Europe. Rather than enduring patterns of religious toleration or persecution, of liberty or tyranny, they tell a rich history of change and variation in rules, institutions, and societies. This is an important and persuasive book.'
John Joseph Wallis, Mancur Olson Professor of Economics, University of Maryland, College Park
'Lucidly written, incisively argued, this book shows how religious toleration emerged not only from ideas, but also from institutions which motivated people - especially the powerful - to accept and act on those ideas. A brilliant account of early modern Europe's transition from identity-based privileges to open markets and impartial governance.'
Sheilagh Ogilvie, University of Cambridge
'This analysis of the historical process underlying the modern state formation is a fantastic scholarly accomplishment. The implications for the present, in terms of the risks associated to the loss of the core liberal values of modern western states, will not be lost to the careful reader.'
Alberto Bisin, New York University
“Pandemics, Places, and Populations:
Evidence from the Black Death” with Remi Jebwab and Noel D. Johnson
“ Negative Shocks and Mass Persecutions: Evidence from the Black Death
” with Remi Jebwab and Noel D Johnson [PDF]
Accepted at the Journal of Economic Growth
“Autocratic Rule and Social Capital: Evidence from Imperial China
” with Melanie Meng Xue [SSRN]
“Political Economy” The Handbook of Cliometrics, edited by Michael Haupert and Claude Diebolt [Draft]
“Geopolitics and Asia's Little Divergence: A Comparative Analysis of State Building in China and Japan after 1850” with Chiaki Moriguchi and Tuan-Hwee Sng
[ssrn] [slides] [Video]
Journal of Economics Organization and Behavior November 2018, Volume 155, Pages 178-204
“Plague, Politics, and Pogroms:
The Black Death, the Rule of Law, and the persecution of Jews in the Holy Roman Empire” with Theresa Finley
Journal of Law & Economics, May 2018, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 253-277 [ssrn] [Link]
“The State, Toleration, and Religious Freedom” with Noel D. Johnson, Forthcoming in Iyer, Rubin and Carvalho (Eds.), Advances in the Economics of Religion, 2018, Palgrave. [ssrn]
“Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks 1100-1800” with Warren Anderson and Noel D. Johnson Economic Journal, June 2017, Volume 127, Issue 602, pp 924-958
[Link ] [PDF] [ssrn] [VOX] [Foreign Policy] [Times of Israel] [Wired] [Tablet] [Israel Hayom]
[Winner of RES prize for Best Paper Published in EJ in 2017]
“Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witchcraft Trials in France” with Noel D. Johnson. Journal of Law and Economics, February 2014, Volume 57, Number 1, pp. 77-112 [PDF] [Washington Post] [Globe & Mail]
“The Law & Economics of Private Prosecutions in Industrial Revolution England” Public Choice March 2014, Volume 159, Number 1-2, pp. 277-298,
Joint winner of the Tullock Prize for Best Paper Published in Public Choice by a junior scholar
Book reviews and Review Papers
“A Review of From Warfare to Wealth: The Military Origins of Urban Prosperity in Europe by Mark Dincecco and Massimiliano Onorato” EH.net February 2018. [Link]
“A Review of Economic History of Warfare and State Formation by Jari Eloranta, Eric Golson, Andrei Markevich, and Nicholas Wolf” EH.net September 2017. [Link]
“A Review of The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality From the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Schiedel” Public Choice Volume 172, Issue 3–4, pp 545–548. September 2017 [Link] [PDF]
“A Review of Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom” Public Choice, Vol. 163, N. 3, pp/ 409-412, May 2015 [PDF]
“Review of Timur Kuran’s The Long Divergence” Public Choice Vol. 154, Issue 3-4, pp 341-343 March 2013 [Link]
“ Review of Douglas W. Allen’s The Institutional Revolution” EH.net [Link]
“ Review of James K. Galbraith’s The Predator State.” Economic Affairs Vol. 29, 1 March, 2009 [Link]