Rachel McCleary

Rachel M. McCleary is Senior Research Fellow, Taubman Center, Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Her  field of expertise is the political economy of religion, an interdisciplinary approach to the study of religion utilizing methodologies from sociology, anthropology, and economics. She holds a Masters in Theological Studies (Candler School of Theology, Emory University) and a doctorate in moral philosophy (University of Chicago). Her research focuses on how religion interacts with economic performance and the political and social behavior of individuals and institutions across societies. She studies how religious beliefs and practices influence productivity, economic growth, and the maintenance of political institutions such as democracy.

Curriculum Vitae

Publicity Photos (.zip) Directions to HKS

Email: rachel_mccleary@harvard.edu
Phone: (+01) 617-495-8611
Office: Taubman 362

Assistant: Bryan Galcik
Mailing address:
Rachel M. McCleary
Harvard Kennedy School, Mailbox #114
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Recent Publications

The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Religion
McCleary, Rachel, ed. The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Religion. Oxford University Press, 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This is a one-of-kind volume bringing together leading scholars in the economics of religion for the first time. The treatment of topics is interdisciplinary, comparative, as well as global in nature. Scholars apply the economics of religion approach to contemporary issues such as immigrants in the United States and ask historical questions such as why did Judaism as a religion promote investment in education?

The economics of religion applies economic concepts (for example, supply and demand) and models of the market to the study of religion. Advocates of the economics of religion approach look at ways in which the religion market influences individual choices as well as institutional development. For example, economists would argue that when a large denomination declines, the religion is not supplying the right kind of religious good that appeals to the faithful. Like firms, religions compete and supply goods. The economics of religion approach using rational choice theory, assumes that all human beings, regardless of their cultural context, their socio-economic situation, act rationally to further his/her ends.