Judaism and Liberalism: Israel’s Economic Problem with its Haredim


ECONOMIC AFFAIRS, Volume 37, Issue 2

Abstract: This article argues that, in the arrangements for the public provision of welfare for the poor and a basic education for all in both biblical and post-biblical times, Judaism is more closely in accord with classical liberalism than it is with those variants of liberalism which favour no more than the minimal night-watchman state as well as those which favour the extensive welfare states of contemporary Western social democracies. To the extent that Israel’s ultra-orthodox Jews (its Haredim) have been able to secure more by way of state subsidies (through exploiting the leverage their country’s national system of proportional representation has given them, which often leaves them holding the balance of power), not only are they endangering Israel’s viability as a vibrant, developed liberal democracy, they are also guilty of departing from the religious teachings and tradition of Jewish orthodoxy.

Culture, Politics, and Economic Development



Abstract: For a generation, political science has been dominated by the analysis of interests within the framework of rational choice. Although this has enabled major advances, it struggles to provide a plausible analysis of many instances of sociopolitical dysfunction. This article reviews recent innovations in economics, psychology, and economic history that are converging to rehabilitate culture as a legitimate element of analysis. Culture matters, and its evolution is amenable to formal scientific analysis. But these processes need not be benign: There is no equivalent to the invisible hand of the market, guiding a culture toward social optimality. An organizational culture can trap a vital public agency, such as a tax administration, into severe dysfunction. A societal culture can trap an entire country into autocracy or poverty.

Quality of government and regional competition: A spatial analysis of subnational regions in the European Union



Abstract: Building on previous work on competition networks and governmental performance among British local governments, this article investigates the diffusion of government quality across subnational regions of Europe through strategic interaction with neighbouring regions or competitor regions more generally. The article demonstrates the presence of spatial interdependence using standard spatial regression models and controlling for common explanations of quality of government. In particular for regions with high levels of autonomy from the national government, there is clear adjustment in government quality to be seen in response to disparities with competitor regions. The article further investigates the intensity of this geographical effect separately in the north and south of Europe in order to estimate the potential for virtuous or vicious cycles of good governance in the two regions, respectively. It is found that while regions in the north develop relatively independently of each other but respond to competitive pressure across Europe, in the south regions demonstrate a higher level of local interdependence, increasing the possibility of virtuous cycles – but also of vicious ones.

Do liberal ties pacify? A study of the Cod Wars

Abstract: The Cod Wars, three militarized interstate disputes between the UK and Iceland (1958–1961, 1972–1973, 1975–1976), have often been presented as an egregious exception to the liberal peace. There are, however, few comprehensive analyses of the liberal dimensions of the Cod Wars. This paper comprehensively analyses the ways in which each of the Cod Wars is consistent or inconsistent with the liberal peace. I find that while the supposedly pacifying factors of the liberal peace – democracy, trade and institutional ties – effectively made the disputes more contentious, they also ensured that escalation to actual war was impossible.

Economic Freedom in the Early 21st Century: Government Ideology Still Matters


KYKLOS, Volume 70, Issue 2

Abstract: Empirical studies show that government ideology has hardly influenced welfare expenditures since the 1990s, casting doubt on the general ability of national governments to design economic policies according to their programmatic appeals. This study takes a comprehensive view on policy-making by using a modified version of the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World Index. I focus on the aspects of economic freedom that provoke party polarization and that national governments are capable of influencing. The results suggest that government ideology still matters in the early 21st century: The empirical analysis of 36 OECD or new European Union member states from 2000 to 2012 shows that left-wing governments are associated with significantly lower economic freedom. Economic freedom continues to be the guiding principle that divides left and right in economic policy-making because the left still promotes relatively higher levels of government spending and regulation.

The limits of liberalism: Good boundaries must be discovered



Abstract: Determining good boundaries for governance jurisdictions is among the most difficult problems in political theory and political philosophy. But to whom the rules of a given jurisdiction applies is a problem that afflicts private as well as public governance. Clubs have boundaries no less than cities, states, or nations. This essay applies Hayek’s conception of competition as a discovery procedure to boundary problems, arguing that good jurisdictional boundaries are subject to a great deal of contingent variation according to particular the conditions of time and place. Philosophical speculation, therefore, cannot fully replace a trial and error process that facilitates social learning about where good boundaries fall. I outline the features of good boundaries that make them subject to such variation, then evaluate two criteria for evaluating whether existing jurisdictional boundaries are good: one that emphasizes ex ante consent to boundaries, and one that focuses on the ability of individuals to exit from jurisdictions ex post, arguing that the exit-focused approach is underappreciated.

Trade, Power, and Political Economy: Reason vs. Ideology in Edward Stringham’s Private Governance



Abstract: In Private Governance: Creating Order in Economic and Social Life, Edward Stringham explains that private ordering is sufficient to secure full exploitation of gains from trade within a society. After describing the logic of Stringham’s claim on behalf of private ordering, the remainder of this essay examines an enigma that Stringham’s argument entails: private ordering is sufficient for social coordination and yet public ordering is ubiquitous. The exploitation of gains from trade might offer a useful ideology, but this provides but an incomplete basis for a theory of society. In this respect, societies are rife with antagonism and envy, though these often manifest themselves ideologically as claims about justice and fairness. Politics goes where the money is; private ordering reveals targets that public ordering subsequently exploits. The challenge for political economy is to integrate the autonomy of economizing action with the autonomy of political action, for these dual autonomies provide the crucible out of which emerges the material of political economy. Stringham has deepened our appreciation of what private governance can accomplish, but much unfinished analytical work confronts theorists of political economy.