Faith & Economics
NUMBER 45, Spring 2005
Contract Theory, Distributive Justice, and the Hebrew Sabbatical
Kurt C. Schaefer and Edd S. Noell
Abstract: This paper reviews the dominant interpretations of the Hebrew sabbatical and jubilee laws that have been offered by theologians, social scientists and biblical scholars. In general, these authors believe that the laws imply such a massive, uncompensated redistribution of wealth that they could never have been practiced, and may not have been intended as practicable. After reviewing the contents of the laws (summarized in Leviticus 25), this paper offers an alternative interpretation. Drawing on contract theory, the paper argues that the laws would have been workable, would not necessarily require coerced participation, and would have a positive effect on commercial vitality. Possible challenges to this argument are considered and parallels are drawn to modern bankruptcy laws.
JEL: D86, P48, Z12
Is There an Earnings Premium for Catholic Women? Evidence from the NLS Youth Cohort
Todd P. Steen
Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between religious background and earnings for women in the year 2000 wave of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort. The paper estimates selectivity corrected human capital earnings functions, and finds evidence that women raised as Catholics enjoy an earnings premium relative to women raised as Protestants, although the premium diminishes over time. This paper also examines earnings for women raised in various Protestant denominations.
JEL: J31, Z12
Jesus and Competition
Abstract: Whether competition is a process compatible with Christian thought is a perennial question. Christians possess divergent views on the matter, ranging from viewing competition as consistent with Christian belief to holding it as contradictory. This paper makes an assessment of the issue. First, it offers some definitions of competition, emphasizing neoclassical understandings of the concept. Then, a selection of Jesusʼ sayings is analyzed that might bear on competition, as interpreted by a range of academic biblical exegetes. The conclusion is that Jesus does not seem to tolerate or encourage competition. How Jesusʼ sayings might bear on aspects of contemporary business practice is assessed, including how Christians might respond to them. This includes ways by which Christians might attempt to change modern business practice and organization. Some examples of how Christian business people have attempted to ameliorate competition are also discussed.
JEL: A10, A12, A13, Z12
Is the Market Moral? A Dialogue on Religion, Economics, and Justice
by Rebbeca Blank and William McGurn
Reviewed by Robyn Klay
Property for People, Not for Profit: Alternatives to the Global Tyranny of Capital
by Ulrich Duchrow and Franz J. Hinkelammert
Reviewed by Robert A. Black
Having: Property and Possession in Religious and Social Life
by William Schweiker and Charles Mathewes, eds.
Reviewed by Andrew Hartropp
Economic Theory and Christian Belief
by Andrew Britton and Peter Sedgwick
Reviewed by Victor Claar
Economics and Religion
by Paul Oslington, ed.
Reviewed by Francis Woehrling
The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics
by William Easterly
Reviewed by John Stapleford