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
“Religion and Discrimination: A Review Essay of Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom ” Journal of Economic Literature, by Sriya Iyer [AEA Preview]
“A Review of Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom ” Journal of Economic History, by Eric Chaney [JEH]
“A Review of Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom ” Public Choice, by Vincent Geloso [Public Choice]
Current Working Papers
“Fractured-Land and Political Fragmentation,” with Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Youhong Lin, and Tuan-Hwee Sng. [SSRN"][CEPR] [Long Presentation] [Short Presentation] Revisions Requested at the Quarterly Journal of Economics
“The Political Economy of Status Competition: Sumptuary Laws in Preindustrial Europe ” with Desiree Desierto [SSRN] Revisions Requested at the Journal of Law and Economics
“Seapower” with Ahmed S. Rahman and Tuan-Hwee Sng ,” Journal of Historical Political Economy Volume 1, Issue 2. 2021.
“Health vs. Economy: Politically Optimal Pandemic Policy” with Desiree Desierto Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy
[SSRN] [Published Version] Earlier versions [CEPR][COVID Economics, vol. 41]
“The Economic Impact of the Black Death” with Remi Jedwab and Noel D Johnson Journal of Economic Literature, Forthcoming [CEPR]
“Negative Shocks and Mass Persecutions: Evidence from the Black Death ” with Remi Jedwab and Noel D Johnson Journal of Economic Growth, December 2019, Volume 24, Pages 345–395 [PDF] [Published Version]
“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
Journal of Economics Organization and Behavior, November 2018, Volume 155, Pages 178-204
[SSRN] [slides] [Video]
“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] [Published Version]
“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
[Published Version ] [PDF] [ssrn] [VOX] [Foreign Policy] [Times of Israel] [Wired] [Tablet] [Israel Hayom]
[Winner of RES prize for Best Paper Published in EJ in 2017]
“Jewish Emancipation and Schism: Economic Development and Religious Change” with Jean-Paul Cavalho Journal of Comparative Economics, August 2016, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp. 562–584
[PDF] [Published Version]
“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,
[Published Version] [PDF]
Joint winner of the Tullock Prize for Best Paper Published in Public Choice by a junior scholar
“Legal Centralization and the Birth of the Secular State” with Noel D. Johnson. Journal of Comparative Economics November 2013, Volume 41, Number 4, pp. 959–978.
[Published Version] [PDF] [slides] [NEP-HIS]
“The political economy of expulsion: the regulation of Jewish moneylending in medieval England” Constitutional Political Economy December 2010, Volume 32, Number 4, pp. 374-406.
[Published Version] [PDF]
“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]
“Establishing a New Order: The Growth of the State and the Decline of Witch Trials in France” with Noel Johnson and John V.C Nye in Institutions, Innovation, and Industrialization: Essays in Economic History and Development, edited by Avner Greif, Lynne Kiesling, and John V. C. Nye [SSRN][Amazon>]
Book reviews and Review Essays
“ A Review of Hilton L. Root's Network Origins of the Global Economy: East vs. West in a Complex Systems Perspective,,” Public Choice (2020). [Published Version]
“A Review of Peer Vries’s Averting a Great Divergence: State and Economy in Japan, 1868-1937,” EH.Net, May2020. Link]
“A Review of Nicholas Crafts’s Forging Ahead, Falling Behind and Fighting Back: British Economic Growth ” Economic History Review Volume 72, Issue 2 May 2019 pp 774-775 [Link]
“A Review of Daniel Ziblatt’s Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, ” Journal of Economic History, Volume 78, Issue 2. pp.940-942. September 2018 [Link]
“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]