Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-l69ms Total loading time: 0.441 Render date: 2022-08-09T02:12:11.184Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Economic freedom and antisemitism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 October 2020

Niclas Berggren*
Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Stockholm, Sweden Department of Economics (KEKE NF), Prague University of Economics and Business, Czechia
Therese Nilsson
Department of Economics, Lund University, Sweden Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Stockholm, Sweden
*Corresponding author. Email:


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.

Research Article
Copyright © Millennium Economics Ltd 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Acemoglu, D., Johnson, S. and Robinson, J. (2005), ‘Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Economic Growth’, in Aghion, P., and Durlauf, S. (eds.), Handbook of Economic Growth, Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 385472.Google Scholar
Alesina, A. and Giuliano, P. (2015), ‘Culture and Institutions’, Journal of Economic Literature 53(4): 898944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bauer, M., Cahlíková, J., Katreniak, D. Celik, Chytilová, J., Cingl, L. and Želinský, T. (2018), ‘Anti-Social Behaviour in Groups’, IZA discussion paper No.11944.Google Scholar
Baum, S. (2012), Antisemitism Explained, Lanham: University Press of America.Google Scholar
Becker, S. and Pascali, L. (2019), ‘Religion, Division of Labour and Conflict: Antisemitism in Germany Over 600 Years’, American Economic Review 109(5): 17641804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berggren, N. and Bjørnskov, C. (2019), ‘Do Voters Dislike Liberalizing Reforms? New Evidence Using Data on Satisfaction with Democracy’, Journal of Institutional Economics 15(4): 631648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berggren, N and Bjørnskov, C. (2020), ‘Institutions and Life Satisfaction’, in Zimmermann, K. F. (ed.), Handbook of Labour, Human Resources and Population Economics, Cham: Springer, pp. 148.Google Scholar
Berggren, N. and Jordahl, H. (2006), ‘Free to Trust: Economic Freedom and Social Capital’, Kyklos 59(2): 141169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berggren, N. and Nilsson, T. (2013), ‘Does Economic Freedom Foster Tolerance?’, Kyklos 66(2): 177207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berggren, N. and Nilsson, T. (2014), ‘Market Institutions Bring Tolerance, Especially Where There is Social Trust’, Applied Economics Letters 21(17): 12341237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berggren, N. and Nilsson, T. (2015), ‘Globalization and the Transmission of Social Values: The Case of Tolerance’, Journal of Comparative Economics 43(2): 371389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berggren, N. and Nilsson, T. (2016), ‘Tolerance in the United States: Does Economic Freedom Transform Racial, Religious, Political and Sexual Attitudes?’, European Journal of Political Economy 45(December): 5370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berggren, N., Ljunge, M. and Nilsson, T. (2019), ‘Roots of Tolerance among Second-Generation Immigrants’, Journal of Institutional Economics 15(6): 9991016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bergmann, W. (2008), ‘Antisemitic Attitudes in Europe: A Comparative Perspective’, Journal of Social Issues 64(2): 343362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beugelsdijk, S. and Maseland, R. (2010), Culture in Economics: History, Methodological Reflections and Contemporary Applications, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bilewicz, M. and Krzeminski, I. (2015), ‘Antisemitism in Poland and Ukraine: The Belief in Jewish Control as a Mechanism of Scapegoating’, International Journal of Conflict and Violence 4(2): 234243.Google Scholar
Bilewicz, M., Winiewski, M., Kofta, M. and Wójcik, A. (2013), ‘Harmful Ideas: The Structure and Consequences of Antisemitic Beliefs in Poland’, Political Psychology 34(6): 821839.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bjørnskov, C. and Rode, M. (2020), ‘Regime Types and Regime Change: A New Dataset on Democracy, Coups, and Political Institutions’, Review of International Organizations 15(2): 531551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bonefeld, W. (2004), ‘Nationalism and Antisemitism in Anti-Globalization Perspective’, in Bonefeld, W. and Psychopedis, K. (eds.), Human Dignity: Social Autonomy and the Critique of Capitalism, Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 147171.Google Scholar
Bordalo, P., Coffman, K., Gennaioli, N. and Shleifer, A. (2016), ‘Stereotypes’, Quarterly Journal of Economics 131(4): 17531794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boyer, P. and Bang Petersen, A. (2018), ‘Folk-Economic Beliefs: An Evolutionary Cognitive Model’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41: e158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Caplan, B. (2002), ‘Systematically Biased Beliefs About Economics: Robust Evidence of Judgemental Anomalies from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy’, Economic Journal 112(479): 433458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cardwell, M. (1996), Dictionary of Psychology, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn.Google Scholar
Cohen, F., Harber, K., Jussim, L. and Bhasin, G. (2009), ‘Modern Antisemitism and Anti-Israeli Attitudes’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 97(2): 290306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
D'Acunto, F., Prokopczuk, M. and Weber, M. (2019), ‘Historical Antisemitism, Ethnic Specialization and Financial Development’, Review of Economic Studies 86(3): 11701206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dippel, C., Heblish, S. and Gold, R. (2015), ‘Globalization and Its (Dis-)content: Trade Shocks and Voting Behaviour’, NBER working paper No. 21812.Google Scholar
Doerr, S., Gissler, S., Peydro, J. and Voth, H.-J. (2019), ‘From Finance to Fascism: The Real Effect of Germany's 1931 Banking Crisis’, CEPR discussion paper No. 12806.Google Scholar
Dreher, A., Gassebner, M. and Siemers, L.-H. (2012), ‘Globalization, Economic Freedom and Human Rights’, Journal of Conflict Resolution 56(3): 516546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Easterly, W. and Levine, R. (2016), ‘The European Origins of Economic Development’, Journal of Economic Growth 21(3): 225257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Facchini, F. (2017), ‘Public Choice Failure and Voter Incompetence in France’, Political Quarterly 88(2): 258264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Faria, H. and Montesinos, H. (2009), ‘Does Economic Freedom Cause Prosperity? An IV Approach’, Public Choice 141(1–2): 103127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Foxman, A. (2010), Jews & Money: The Story of a Stereotype, New York: St. Martin's Griffin.Google Scholar
Friedman, B. (2005), The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
Frindte, W., Wettig, S. and Wammetsberger, D. (2005), ‘Old and New Antisemitic Attitudes in the Context of Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Orientation: Two Studies in Germany’, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 11(3): 239266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Glaeser, E. (2005), ‘The Political Economy of Hatred’, Quarterly Journal of Economics 120(1): 4586.Google Scholar
Gouda, M. and Gutmann, J. (2020), ‘Islamic Constitutions and Religious Minorities’, Public Choice forthcoming.Google Scholar
Grosfeld, I., Orcan Sakalli, S. and Zhuravskaya, E. (2020), ‘Middleman Minorities and Ethnic Violence: Anti-Jewish Pogroms in the Russian Empire’, Review of Economic Studies 87(1): 289342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grosfeld, I., Rodnyansky, A. and Zhuravskaya, E. (2013), ‘Persistent Antimarket Culture: A Legacy of the Pale of Settlement after the Holocaust’, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 5(3): 189226.Google Scholar
Gutmann, J. and Voigt, S. (2018), ‘The Rule of Law: Measurement and Deep Roots’, European Journal of Political Economy 54(September): 6882.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gygli, S., Haelg, F., Potrafke, N. and Sturm, J.-E. (2019), ‘The KOF Globalisation Index – Revisited’, The Review of International Organizations, 14(3): 543574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hall, J. and Lawson, R. (2014), ‘Economic Freedom of the World: An Accounting of the Literature’, Contemporary Economic Policy 31(1): 119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hastie, T., Tibshirani, R. and Friedman, J. (2009), The Elements of Statistical Learning, Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hillman, A. (2010), ‘Expressive Behaviour in Economics and Politics’, European Journal of Political Economy 26(4): 403418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hillman, A. (2013), ‘Economic and Behavioural Foundations of Prejudice’, in Asher Small, C. (ed.), Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, pp. 5168.Google Scholar
Hillman, A. and Potrafke, N. (2018), ‘Economic Freedom and Religion: An Empirical Investigation’, Public Finance Review 46(2): 249275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jacobs, S. (2011), ‘Globalisation, Anti-Globalisation and the Jewish “Question”’, European Review of History 18(1): 4556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jikeli, G. (2015), European Muslim Antisemitism: Why Young Urban Males Say They Don't Like Jews, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
Johnson, N. and Koyama, M. (2019), Persecution & Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Koyama, M. (2010), ‘Evading the “Taint of Usury”: The Usury Prohibition as a Barrier to Entry’, Explorations in Economic History 47(4): 420442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levy Paluck, E., Green, S. and Green, D. (2019), ‘The Contact Hypothesis Re-Evaluated’, Behavioral Public Policy 3(2): 129158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lindemann, A. and Levy, R. (2010), Antisemitism: A History, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Lipstadt, D. (2019), Antisemitism: Here and Now, New York: Schocken.Google Scholar
Lipton, S. (2019), ‘A Terribly Durable Myth’, New York Review of Books, 66(11), (accessed 10 January, 2020).Google Scholar
Mocan, N. and Raschke, C. (2016), ‘Economic Well-Being and Antisemitic, Xenophobic and Racist Attitudes in Germany’, European Journal of Law and Economics 41(1): 163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Muller, J. (2010), Capitalism and the Jews, Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nirenberg, D. (2014), Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition, New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
North, D. C. (1991), ‘Institutions’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 5(1): 97112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pargament, K., Trevino, K., Mahoney, A. and Silberman, I. (2007), ‘They Killed our Lord: The Perception of Jews as Desecrators of Christianity as a Predictor of Antisemitism’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 46(2): 143158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Penslar, D. (2001), Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe, Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Persson, T. and Tabellini, G. (2009), ‘Democratic Capital: The Nexus of Political and Economic Change’, American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics 1(2): 88126.Google Scholar
Rodrik, D., Subramanian, A., A., and Trebbi, F. (2004), ‘Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development’, Journal of Economic Growth 9(2): 131165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rothstein, B. (2000), ‘Trust, Social Dilemmas and Collective Memories’, Journal of Theoretical Politics 12(4): 477501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sommer, B. (2008), ‘Anti-capitalism in the Name of Ethno-Nationalism: Ideological Shifts on the German Extreme Right’, Patterns of Prejudice 42(3): 305316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Teague, M. V., Storr, V. H. and Fike, R. (2020), ‘Economic Freedom and Materialism: An Empirical Analysis’, Constitutional Political Economy 31(1): 144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vang, Z., Hou, F. and Elder, K. (2019), ‘Perceived Religious Discrimination, Religiosity and Life Satisfaction’, Journal of Happiness Studies 20(6): 19131932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Voigtländer, N. and Voth, H.-J. (2012), ‘Persecution Perpetuated: The Medieval Origins of Antisemitic Violence in Nazi Germany’, Quarterly Journal of Economics 127(3): 13391392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wigerfelt, A. and Wigerfelt, B. (2016), ‘Media Images and Experiences of Being a Jew in the Swedish City of Malmö’, SAGE Open 6(1): 114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zweimuller, M., Winter-Ebmer, R. and Weichselbaumer, D. (2008), ‘Market Orientation and Gender Wage Gaps: An International Study’, Kyklos 61(4): 615635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: PDF

Berggren and Nilsson Supplementary Materials

Berggren and Nilsson Supplementary Materials

Download Berggren and Nilsson Supplementary Materials(PDF)

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Economic freedom and antisemitism
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Economic freedom and antisemitism
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Economic freedom and antisemitism
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *