The role of religion in the economic transformation of ex-communist countries

The fact that some ex-communist countries are more successful than others in the long transformation since the fall of communist regimes in 1989, inspires us to research the phenomenon, without ignoring the impact of religion. The communist regimes were atheist and tried to eliminate God from His city, including personal faith and churches. It may seem obvious that the attitudes towards social and economic behaviors differ in many aspects and profoundly from the liberal countries. The post-communist era was characterised by a revival of religion and religiosity, even not in a general way. So, it is extremely interesting to see whether the role of religion in the economic transformation was essential, although it didn't cover uniformly all countries.

When economic freedom lacks, the religious precepts may act as substitute, providing the core values in free-market capitalism: trust, private property and the rule of law. Many indicators of culture are religious inculcated values and there are clear evidence that they are strongly correlated with the economic development and with some measures of institutions [Tabellini 2010]. For exemple, in countries where the level of trust between individuals is low (and many ex-communist countries know very well this symptom), then the investment rate is also low [Zak, Knack 2001] and a very important ingredient for economic growth is removed.

The main research question is thus: Is religion an important factor in the transformation of ex-communist countries from socialist economic system to free market capitalism?

Our research is unique and new from several reasons. First, we'll construct and use a new composite index to measure religiosity from 1990 to 2010 more accurately. Second, we will construct the religiosity index also for the period 2008-2010 on the basis of the data of the 4th EVS-wave. In all international scientific analyses such an index isn't used for the period 2008-2010. Third, using transdiciplinary approach, we analyse the social and economic transformation of ex-communist countries from centrally planned economy to the free market capitalism in a more profound way.