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Economic Shocks and Temple Desecrations in Medieval India

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  • Ticku, R.
  • Shrivastava, A.
  • Iyer, S.

Abstract

Economic downturns can create conditions for mass uprisings that threaten an authoritarian ruler. Religious authority can provide the ideological force needed to solve the collective action problem that hinders a revolution. When co-option is infeasible, the ruler can respond to economic shocks by suppressing the religious authority of the popular religion. In this paper we provide empirical evidence of this response in medieval India. Using centuries of geo-referenced data we document a positive relationship between weather fluctuations and the destruction of Hindu temples under Muslim rule. Specifically, during periods of large weather fluctuations the likelihood of a Muslim State desecrating a Hindu temple increases by about 1 percentage point (relative to the baseline of 0.7%). We explore various mechanisms that could drive the ruler’s response and show that regime stability is the likely explanation for this relationship. The paper contributes to our understanding of the behaviour of authoritarian regimes in diverse societies.

Suggested Citation

  • Ticku, R. & Shrivastava, A. & Iyer, S., 2018. "Economic Shocks and Temple Desecrations in Medieval India," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1862, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1862
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    Cited by:

    1. Sascha O. Becker & Jared Rubin & Ludger Woessmann, 2020. "Religion in Economic History: A Survey," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 480, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Iyer, S., 2020. "Religion and Discrimination: A Review Essay of Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 2084, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Religious repression; Regime stability; Weather shocks; Temple desecration.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N45 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Asia including Middle East

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