Collins Conference Room
Paul Seabright (Toulouse University)

This event is closed.

Abstract.  This paper begins by examining data on the world distribution of religious affiliation and its evolution since 1950. Over the last 65 years there has been a large rise in the share of Muslims in the world population and a decline in the share of Christians, but the big story is not one about the former growing at the expense of the latter, since the movement in their relative shares reflects almost entirely the different demographics of the populations in which the two religions were more strongly implanted at the beginning of the postwar era. Instead the big story is about local and folk religions all over the world being replaced by organizations representing one of the two major global religious brands. The paper goes on to consider what is the best way to model this phenomenon and presents a simple model of religious organizations as platforms that derive their raison d'être from putting different groups of users in contact with each other, usually screening users for quality using both price and non-price methods. Illustrative evidence from African Pentecostal Christianity is presented.

Research Collaboration
SFI Host: 
Sam Bowles