In April, the World Bank published a working paper titled “Communism as the Unhappy Coming.” It is co-authored by two my fellow Bulgarians, Simeon Djankov (whom I have known well for years; we worked together) and Elena Nikolova. They have concluded that members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the second-largest church in Christendom, are likely to support left-wing economic policies. The report states that “relative to Catholics, Protestants, and non-believers, those of Eastern Orthodox religion have less social capital and prefer old ideas and safe jobs.” Further, “Orthodoxy is associated with left-leaning political preferences and stronger support for government involvement in the economy.” The report was soon picked up by Bloomberg News and The Economist.

It is probably true that historically Orthodox countries (the study lumps in believers and non-believers alike) would fall into the group of those supporting greater government intervention in the economy. This has been the case in the last decade in Russia and, before 2008, it would have held true for Serbia and Montenegro. But the implied causality between Orthodoxy and economic policy is premised upon the authors’ tacit assumption that many of Orthodox and/or Catholic nations remained Christian throughout their Communist occupation.

Read the whole article here.

Categories: Paper