Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1357: Economic Freedom and Antisemitism

Niclas Berggren () and Therese Nilsson ()
Additional contact information
Niclas Berggren: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Therese Nilsson: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: and Department of Economics, Lund University

Abstract: We examine how variation in antisemitism across countries can be explained by economic freedom. We propose two mechanisms. First, the more economic freedom, the greater the scope of market activities. If people perceive the consequences of the market economy as detrimental, they will be more hostile towards those seen as mainly responsible. If Jews are seen as such, this implies that a greater reliance on markets increases antisemitism. Second, a key type of institution undergirding the market is an effective and fair legal system, or the rule of law. The stronger the rule of law, the smaller the risk for exploitative behaviour, and the less hostile people will be towards groups seen as exploiters. If Jews are seen as such, more economic freedom reduces antisemitism. We use the ADL Global 100 survey of antisemitic attitudes and relate them, for up to 106 countries, to the Economic Freedom of the World index and its five areas. Our empirical findings confirm the two predictions: The more economic openness, the more antisemitism; and the stronger the rule of law, the less antisemitism. These findings indicate a complex relationship between markets and attitudes towards Jews.

Keywords: Markets; Economic freedom; Tolerance; Globalization; Jews; Antisemitism; Racism; Persecution

JEL-codes: D02; D63; F10; F20; F30; J15; K40; P14; Z12

60 pages, September 24, 2020

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