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The institutional legacy of the Ottoman Empire: Islamic rule and financial development in South Eastern Europe

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  • Grosjean, Pauline

Abstract

This paper uses a historical experiment - the occupation of South Eastern Europe by the Ottoman Empire - to shed light on the persistence of financial development. Interest-lending prohibition persisted under Islamic rule much longer than in the rest of Europe. The unique history and political fragmentation of the region allows investigating within-country effects, in six countries that were formerly only partly occupied by the Ottoman Empire. Former Islamic rule is consistently associated with lower contemporaneous formal financial development, both across and within countries. It is associated with a decrease in bank penetration by 10% across countries and 4% within countries. However, within country, the effect of the Ottoman Empire is confined to financial development. There is no association between former Ottoman rule, income, small and medium sized enterprise development or entrepreneurship. The effect is robust to controlling for a wide number of observable characteristics. Moreover, localities with Armenian, Jewish or Greek minorities, who were allowed to practice interest lending under Ottoman rule, have higher levels of bank penetration. By contrast, Islamic religion and trust in the financial system play no role in explaining such long-term persistence.

Suggested Citation

  • Grosjean, Pauline, 2011. "The institutional legacy of the Ottoman Empire: Islamic rule and financial development in South Eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-16, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:39:y:2011:i:1:p:1-16
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