NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Religious Extremism: The Good, The Bad, and The Deadly

Eli Berman, Laurence R. Iannaccone

NBER Working Paper No. 11663
Issued in October 2005
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper challenges conventional views of violent religious extremism, particularly those that emphasize militant theology. We offer an alternative analysis that helps explain the persistent demand for religion, the different types of religious that naturally arise, and the special attributes of the “sectarian” type. Sects are adept at producing club goods both spiritual and material. Where governments and economies function poorly, sects often become major suppliers of social services, political action, and coercive force. Their success as providers is much more due to the advantages of their organizational structure than it is to their theology. Religious militancy is most effectively controlled through a combination of policies that raise the direct costs of violence, foster religious competition, improve social services, and encourage private enterprise.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11663

Published: Laurence Iannaccone & Eli Berman, 2006. "Religious extremism: The good, the bad, and the deadly," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 109-129, July.

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