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ARDA/ASREC Working Papers Series

The Economic Performance of Great Religions: An Alternative to Weber’s Rationalism

Paul Fudulu
University of Bucharest


Ultimately, institutions are opportunity cost patterns in terms of the all-inclusive mega-goods absolute wealth and relative power , while cultural preferences are preference rankings of communities for the same mega-goods. It is this transcultural perspective on institutions and cultures which makes it possible to look at the consistency of a religion with economic performance by taking into account religious rules and values which directly characterize the mega-good relative power and only indirectly the mega-good absolute wealth. Consequently, besides criteria which have a direct bearing on the easiness to produce absolute wealth—the preference for general wealth, the level of prohibition of interest and the encouragement of saving and productive investment—more numerous and better depicted criteria, related to relative power and only indirectly to absolute wealth, can be employed such as: the kind of divinity, the kind of salvation, the type of asceticism, the encouragement of obedience, the type of social justice which is encouraged, man’s power over woman and the kind of ecclesiastical organization. All of the six religions and a religion substitute which are analyzed—Judaism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodoxism, Islam, Confucianism and Buddhism—show almost the same rankings of consistency with economic performance for one direct and two indirect criteria which are employed in this study.

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