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Mr. Smith and the Preachers: The Economics of Religion in the Wealth of Nations

Gary M. Anderson
Journal of Political Economy
Vol. 96, No. 5 (Oct., 1988), pp. 1066-1088
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1837247
Page Count: 23
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Mr. Smith and the Preachers: The Economics of Religion in the Wealth of Nations
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Abstract

The extension of economic analysis to problems beyond the domain of formal markets and explicit prices represents a major recent intellectual development. But "economic imperialism" is not new and was not invented in Chicago. Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, extended economic reasoning to a variety of nonmarket exchange problems. One example is his analysis of religious behavior. Smith viewed participation in religion as a rational device by which individual enhanced the value of their human capital. He also explained the behavior of the clergy and other suppliers of religious services from an economic perspective.

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