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Reading, writing, and religion: Institutions and human capital formation

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  • Chaudhary, Latika
  • Rubin, Jared

Abstract

In this paper, we empirically test the role that religious and political institutions play in the accumulation of human capital. Using a new data set on literacy in colonial India, we find that Muslim literacy is negatively correlated with the proportion of Muslims in the district, although we find no similar result for Hindu literacy. We employ a theoretical model which suggests that districts which experienced a more recent collapse of Muslim political authority had more powerful and better funded religious authorities, who established religious schools which were less effective at promoting literacy on the margin than state schools. We test this hypothesis econometrically, finding that the period of Muslim political collapse has a statistically significant effect on Muslim literacy while controlling for it eliminates the significance of the proportion of Muslims on Muslim literacy. This suggests that the "long hand of history" has played some role in subsequent differences in human capital formation through the persistence of institutions discouraging literacy.

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  • Chaudhary, Latika & Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Reading, writing, and religion: Institutions and human capital formation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:39:y:2011:i:1:p:17-33
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    Cited by:

    1. Saleh, Mohamed, 2013. "On the Road to Heaven: Taxation, Conversions, and the Coptic-Muslim Socioeconomic Gap in Medieval Egypt," TSE Working Papers 13-428, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Nov 2017.
    2. Chaudhary, Latika & Rubin, Jared, 2016. "Religious identity and the provision of public goods: Evidence from the Indian Princely States," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 461-483.
    3. Coşgel, Metin M. & Miceli, Thomas J. & Rubin, Jared, 2012. "The political economy of mass printing: Legitimacy and technological change in the Ottoman Empire," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 357-371.
    4. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    5. Jared Rubin, 2014. "Printing and Protestants: An Empirical Test of the Role of Printing in the Reformation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 270-286, May.
    6. Sriya Iyer & Chander Velu & Melvyn Weeks, 2014. "Divine Competition: Religious Organisations and Service Provision in India," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1409, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    7. Chaudhary, Latika & Musacchio, Aldo & Nafziger, Steven & Yan, Se, 2012. "Big BRICs, weak foundations: The beginning of public elementary education in Brazil, Russia, India, and China," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 221-240.
    8. Oliver Vanden Eynde, 2016. "Military Service and Human Capital Accumulation: Evidence from Colonial Punjab," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(4), pages 10031035-10.
    9. Noury, Abdul G. & Speciale, Biagio, 2016. "Social constraints and women's education: Evidence from Afghanistan under radical religious rule," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 821-841.
    10. Koyama, Mark & Xue, Melanie Meng, 2015. "The Literary Inquisition: The Persecution of Intellectuals and Human Capital Accumulation in China," MPRA Paper 62103, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Ilan Tojerow, 2016. "In God We Learn? Religions’ Universal Messages, Context-Specific Effects, and Minority Status," Working Papers CEB 2013/233535, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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