nhaliday + acemoglu + property-rights   1

Why the West Got Rich, part 1/N: War - Jared Rubin's Website
of course I don't understand why some people want to focus on the Middle East with respect to the great divergence
"why not China (and East Asia in general)" was inspired by East Asia's rapid convergence in the 20th century
I don't understand why anyone thinks Middle East divergence is a big puzzle just bec Muslims were good at mediaeval math/science

Jared Rubin: Rulers, religion, and riches: Why the West got rich and the Middle East did not?
- Mark Koyama

Islam and Economic Performance: Historical and Contemporary Links: https://sites.duke.edu/timurkuran/files/2017/09/Islam-Economic-Performance-Kuran-JEL-in-press.pdf
- Timur Kuran

This essay critically evaluates the analytic literature concerned with causal connections between Islam and economic performance. It focuses on works since 1997, when this literature was last surveyed. Among the findings are the following: Ramadan fasting by pregnant women harms prenatal development; Islamic charities mainly benefit the middle class; Islam affects educational outcomes less through Islamic schooling than through structural factors that handicap learning as a whole; Islamic finance hardly affects Muslim financial behavior; and low generalized trust depresses Muslim trade. The last feature reflects the Muslim world’s delay in transitioning from personal to impersonal exchange. The delay resulted from the persistent simplicity of the private enterprises formed under Islamic law. Weak property rights reinforced the private sector’s stagnation by driving capital out of commerce and into rigid waqfs. Waqfs limited economic development through their inflexibility and democratization by restraining the development of civil society. Parts of the Muslim world conquered by Arab armies are especially undemocratic, which suggests that early Islamic institutions, including slave-based armies, were particularly critical to the persistence of authoritarian patterns of governance. States have contributed themselves to the persistence of authoritarianism by treating Islam as an instrument of governance. As the world started to industrialize, non-Muslim subjects of Muslim-governed states pulled ahead of their Muslim neighbors by exercising the choice of law they enjoyed under Islamic law in favor of a Western legal system.

Why the West got rich and the Middle East did not: http://theforum.erf.org.eg/2017/09/10/west-got-rich-middle-east-not-implications-twenty-first-century/
- There are two reasons to be more pessimistic than optimistic about the economic and political future of the Middle East.
- First, much of the economic opportunity offered by the one-time resource boom has been squandered.
- Second, as oil revenues dry up and rulers have less capacity to buy support via subsidies and graft, the odds of them leaning even more heavily on religious legitimacy are high.

The Long Divergence: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/the-long-divergence/
I just finished The Long Divergence, by Timur Kuran, which tries to explain the Middle East’s economic backwardness. It’s a path-dependence argument: mistakes were made, and one thing led to another.

His thesis is that particular features of local culture and Islamic law inhibited modernization. He argues that these factors inhibited the development of complex sub-state organizations, in particular the modern business corporation. He blames factors that tended to disperse wealth: the egalitarian Islamic inheritance system and polygyny. Today they wouldn’t matter to a corporation, but in the past they interfered with concentration of assets that would have been useful in establishing larger-scale concerns. He thinks that the Quranic ban on interest was mostly an irritant, routinely evaded, but it didn’t help.

He talks about the mysterious trend in which non-Muslim minorities became ever wealthier and more influential over the past couple of centuries, even though they were supposed to be second-class citizens. Trade was dominated by religious minorities (Greeks, Armenians, and sometimes Jews), as well as new sectors of the economy like insurance and finance. Also in new industries: “In major cities, water,gas, electricity, telephone, tram, and subway services were founded mostly through foreign capital, and the managerial staff was overwhelmingly non-Muslim.”
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april 2017 by nhaliday

bundles : dismalityeconpeeps

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