Boston University School of Law

Church and State: An Economic Analysis

Keith N. Hylton
Yulia Rodionova
Fei Deng

Boston University School of Law Working Paper 08-24


What purpose is served by a government’s protection of religious liberty?  Many have been suggested, the most prominent of which center on the protection of freedom of belief and expression.  However, since every regulation potentially interferes with religious freedom, it is useful to consider more concrete purposes that could suggest limits on the degree to which religious liberty should be protected.  This paper focuses on the concrete economic consequences of state regulation of religion.  We examine the effects of state regulation on corruption, economic growth, and inequality.  The results suggest that laws and practices burdening religion enhance corruption.  Laws burdening religion reduce economic growth and are positively associated with inequality.

Keywords: regulation of religion, economics of religion, corruption, inequality

JEL Classification: D3, D73, H41, K0, N4, Z12


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Suggested Citation:

Keith N. Hylton, Yulia Rodionova and Fei Deng, "Church and State: An Economic Analysis," .

Contact Information

Keith N. Hylton

Boston University School of Law
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

Yulia Rodionova
University College London
School of Slavonic and East European Studies
16 Taviton street
London W1H OBW
United Kingdom

Fei Deng
National Economic Research Associates (NERA)
 One Front Street, Suite 2600
 San Francisco, CA 94111
 United States