Economic freedom and antisemitism

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: 1-0062
  • Lecturer: Professor Therese Nilsson and associate professor Niclas Berggren
  • Website
  • Organiser: Forum för judiska studier
  • Contact person: Lars M. Andersson
  • Seminarium

In this study, we build on earlier work relating economic institutions to tolerance towards various minorities. 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 Jews as particularly skilful at doing business at the expense of others, a greater reliance on markets can increase 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.



Therese Nilsson is a professor in economics. She is affiliated with the Department of Economics, Lund University, and the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN). She also works as an Academic Programme Advisor for the Trade Policy Training Institute in Africa (trapca). Most of her research lies at the intersection of health and education economics, but her research also includes work on cultural and institutional economics.

Niclas Berggren is an associate professor of economics at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) and in the Department of Economics at Prague University of Economics and Business. At IFN, he is program director for the research program Institutions, Markets and Enterprise. His research is in the fields of cultural, political and institutional economics, with a particular focus in recent years on the relation between economic institutions and cultural characteristics like trust, tolerance and religiosity.