Was Adam Smith Right About Religious Competition?

March, 2016

Adam Smith famously argued that increased competition in religion would result in more religious tolerance and that the benefits of competition in the marketplace would also be seen in religious instruction when many religious sects are tolerated. We use a cross-section of a maximum of 167 countries to explore whether increased religious competition results in less governmental regulation of religion and less governmental favoritism of religion. Our measure of religious regulation and favoritism comes from the Association of Religion Data Archives. Our empirical analysis also explores the influence of economic and political factors, including the size of the economy, openness of trade, legal origins, education, the amount of checks and balances on the government, and the role of democracy.

Good for the Goose, Bad for the Gander

September 1, 2007

The international labor rights movement, led by the International Labour Organization (ILO), asserts that developing countries are currently ready for more stringent labor standards. This paper investigates this claim by examining the timing of labor standard adoption in highly developed countries, which were all once as poor as today’s developing countries and made the trade-off between labor standards and income in the past. Their experience therefore suggests a safe income threshold for adopting similar labor standards in the developing world. The research shows that every ILO-proposed labor standard is highly premature for the developing countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. Countries there are between 100 and 300 years from reaching this threshold. Similarly, it shows that so-called sweatshop-intensive developing countries are between 35 and 100 years from this threshold. ILO-proposed policy is exactly backward. A substantial relaxation of labor standards is the appropriate labor policy for the developing world.

Read the article at SpringerLink.

Racial Fractionalization and School Performance

April 1, 2010

The literature on racial “peer effects” suggests that diversity improves at least some students' school performance. However, a literature in economic development posits that diversity may negatively affect school performance by undermining the efficient provision of education. This article empirically tests this claim, which we call the “public goods channel,” by examining the relationship between racial diversity and student performance in Ohio's school districts. The results show that moving from a completely homogenous school district to one in which two racial groups have equal population shares is associated with a 7–17.5 percentage point decline in the passage rate on the state math exam, holding per pupil spending across districts constant. These results suggest that racial diversity is negatively associated with school performance but that the public goods channel is not responsible for this relationship.

Read the article at Wiley Online Library.