Economics of Religion Roundtable at St Catharine's

The International Economic Association Roundtable on the Economics of Religion was held at St. Catharine’s College on 10-11 July 2017. Organised by St. Catharine’s Fellow Dr Sriya Iyer, along with Jean-Paul Carvalho (UC Irvine) and Jared Rubin (Chapman), the Roundtable brought together some of the world’s most distinguished economists and other scholars to debate and discuss the role of religion in society today.

The conference, organised jointly with the Cambridge-INET Institute, began with an opening address by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of the Vatican. The highlight of the conference was a panel discussion on the role of state religion, religious freedoms, institutions and growth featuring Robert Barro, Timur Kuran, Tim Besley and Sascha Becker; and a second panel on how religion had shaped the world with Partha Dasgupta, Rachel McCleary, David Maxwell, Larry Iannaccone and Michael McBride. Sessions ranged from exploring economic theory and religion, history and religion, religious giving, and reformations and religious freedoms. Sriya Iyer and Mark Koyama talked about their forthcoming books on the economics of religion in India, and religious freedom and state capacity. Paper presentations also encompassed how personal liberties and religiosity are interlinked, the effects of the Protestant Reformation, and how religion and politics are related today in the US.

The quality of discussion to determine what is the kind of religion we need today and how economic research needs to adapt to aid policy-making, was a key aspect of the Roundtable. A contributed volume entitled Advances in the Economics of Religion will be forthcoming under the IEA Series after the Roundtable that will consolidate the many interesting debates and lively discussions. All participants thoroughly enjoyed the event and could be seen in the breaks enjoying the beauty of the flowers in St Catharine's main court, and sporting the new claret St Catharine's bags created especially for the occasion. Thanks to all for a wonderful event!