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On the Road to Heaven: Self-Selection, Religion, and Socio-Economic Status

  • Saleh, Mohamed

Inter-religion socioeconomic differences are often attributed to religion. Instead, I trace the phenomenon in Egypt to self-selection-on-socioeconomic-status during Egypt’s conversion from Coptic Christianity to Islam. Self-selection was driven by a regressive tax-on-religion that was imposed upon the Arab Conquest of Egypt in 641 and lasted until 1856. Using novel data sources, I document that (a) the long-term trends of the tax, conversions, and the Coptic-Muslim occupational differences are consistent with the selection hypothesis, and (b) districts with a higher tax in 641- 1100 had relatively fewer, but differentially better-off, Copts in 1848-1868. I discuss why the initial selection persisted over time.

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Paper provided by Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST) in its series IAST Working Papers with number 13-04.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
Date of revision: Dec 2015
Handle: RePEc:tse:iastwp:27565
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