Higher taxes fewer witches

We find that regions with higher taxes were less likely to try witches and that the rise of the fiscal state across much of France during the mid-seventeenth century can account for much of the subsequent decline in witch-trials. These results are robust across a range of different econometric specifications and our findings are supported by additional historical and qualitative evidence.

That is from my colleagues Noel Johnson and Mark Koyama, paper here, Suzy Khimm summary here.  And how so?:

Johnson and Koyama argue that regions with lower taxes had less resources to strictly administer legal codes, allowing the trying of witches to flourish. They further note that as France became more unified and its fiscal functions centralized, witch hunts declined just about everywhere. That, however, was not a product of higher taxes but rather of standardization.


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