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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter summarizes the current state of economic research on the regulation of religious markets and suggests directions for the future. Following a discussion of the differing views of Adam Smith and David Hume on the wisdom of state support of religion, the chapter next describes the early work—mainly by sociologists—on the empirical relationship between religious pluralism and religious participation. Because of substantial flaws in the pluralism/participation research, emphasis in more recent years has shifted to studying the effects of regulations on religion, such as the existence of state religions and restrictions on freedoms of religious groups. In the future, more work needs to be done to answer empirical questions on the effects of religious regulation, but more importantly economists need to develop a holistic theory of religious market regulation that accounts for the simultaneous decisions of individuals, religious organizations, and government actors.

Keywords: economics, theology, religion, Christianity, Hume, Smith, pluralism, participation, regulation, establishment

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