The aim of this paper is to unravel a traditional Buddhist teaching of kamma-vipaka with the aid of some modern economic analysis.
The traditional teaching is that generosity, particularly religious dana, results in material prosperity. From this perspective, present wealth is a mark of past good deeds. Religious dana is the provision by lay people of material support for the monastic Sangha - monks and nuns (bhikkhus and bhikkhunis).
So the question posed in the title of this paper focuses on the following: is supporting the Sangha “good” for the economy? The economist’s answer given here is yes, but only if the Sangha are “good” monks and nuns.
“Buddhism has been the religion of merchants from its earliest days, and the spread of Buddhism been accomplished by the mercantile community”. Lancaster (1997, p.9)
“Virtually every commercial transaction has within itself an element of trust, certainly any transactions conducted over a period of time. It can be plausibly argued that much of the economic backwardness in the world can be explained by a lack of mutual confidence.” Arrow (1972, p.357)