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The Economics of Religious Communities: Social Integration, Discrimination and Radicalization

The Economics of Religious Communities: Social Integration, Discrimination and Radicalization

Jean-Paul Carvalho
November 6, 2017 -
11:30am to 1:00pm
Encina Hall West, Room 400 (GSL)
Event Speaker: 
Jean-Paul Carvalho, Associate Professor of Economics, UC Irvine
Event Sponsor: 
The Munro Lecturship Fund, The Stanford Center for International Development, and The Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies

The formation and structure of religious communities is determined by the combination of outside options and internal organization principles. We model a community's strictness, social and economic integration, cohesion, and susceptibility to radicalization. Religious behavior is moderated by outside economic opportunities and competition among religious entrepreneurs in the community. A rising share of extremists fractures the community, leading either to schism or assimilation by moderates. Blanket discrimination against all community members unifies the religious community and makes it stricter. Targeted discrimination against actively religious members promotes social integration on the whole, but can create an extreme isolationist sect. Forward-looking religious leaders may use various strategies to radicalize the community over time. Radicalization works only when extremist members have disproportionate influence, blanket discrimination prevails, and religious competition is lacking.


Jean-Paul Carvalho's research interests lie in culture, identity and institutions.

He is Interim Director of the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences at UC Irvine, Faculty Fellow of the Association for Analytic Learning about Islam & Muslim Societies (AALIMS), and Associate of the Network for Economic Research on Identity, Norms and Narratives (ERINN).

He was educated at the University of Oxford (DPhil, MPhil), as a Monash scholar, and the University of Western Australia. Before joining UC Irvine in 2011, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Economics at Oxford and was awarded a Robert Solow Fellowship by the Cournot Centre for Economic Studies, Paris.