The extent to which Islam is responsible for the problems encountered in countries in which it dominates has been the subject of much attention. This column explores the effect of religions with differing organisational structures on progressive institutional reforms, state corruption, and political stability. Decentralised religions such as Islam are more conducive to institutional stagnation and political instability than centralised religions such as Catholicism or Eastern Christianity, with negative consequences for long-term development.
Emmanuelle Auriol, Jean-Philippe Platteau, 09 April 2017
Maleke Fourati, Gabriele Gratton, Pauline Grosjean, 14 July 2016
It is typically argued that the rising popularity of Islamist parties in parts of the Arab world reflects votes from the poor and disenfranchised. This column challenges this perspective, arguing that Islamist parties gain political support from the middle classes, due in large part to neoliberal economic policies. Using survey and electoral data from Tunisia, it shows that belonging to the middle class and living in a rich district together affect the decision to vote for the religious party more than actually being religious. These findings suggest that the same framework used to analyse political competition in the West can be fruitfully applied to the Muslim world.
Stelios Michalopoulos, Alireza Naghavi, Giovanni Prarolo, 08 December 2012
Islam spread remarkably quickly before the era of European colonialism. This column argues that an important economic factor in determining the geographic range was spatial inequality that necessitated a politically unifying force like Islam. Regions that harboured such economic inequality were especially ripe for a system like Islam that offered progressive redistributive tenets with centralised authority to enforce them.
Eric Gould, Esteban Klor, 30 January 2012
How does radical Islamic terrorism impact Muslim immigrants in the West? The backlash against Muslims in the US after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 damaged assimilation among Muslim immigrants, argue the authors of CEPR DP8797 – and they present strong evidence to prove it.
Eric Chaney, 03 September 2010
Eric Chaney of Harvard University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research on the evolution of institutions in the Islamic world and the relationship with economic development. Among other things, they discuss the rise and fall of Muslim science; and the balance of power between ‘church’ and ‘state’ in times of catastrophe. The interview was recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Glasgow in August 2010.