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The Reluctant Transformation: Modernization, Religion, and Human Capital in Nineteenth Century Egypt

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  • Saleh, Mohamed

Abstract

Over the nineteenth century, Egypt embarked on one of the world's earliest state-led modernization programs in production, education, and the army. I examine the impact of this ambitious program on long-standing human capital differentials and occupational and educational segregation between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. I employ a new and unique data source, samples of the 1848 and 1868 Egyptian censuses that I digitized from the original manuscript forms, to examine this question. I find that the first wave of industrial modernization widened the religious occupational gap that was traditionally in favor of non-Muslims, but the second wave led to upward occupational mobility among both Muslims and Christians, although it did not alter the gap. Educational and military modernization, on the other hand, favored Muslims who benefited from these institutions almost exclusively, but the impact was too limited to induce a general catching-up effect. Overall, occupational and educational segregation was not attenuated by modernization, both because the traditional institutions in production and education were still the major routes for skill-acquisition, and because the new routes for mobility that modernization created were themselves segregated.

Suggested Citation

  • Saleh, Mohamed, 2012. "The Reluctant Transformation: Modernization, Religion, and Human Capital in Nineteenth Century Egypt," TSE Working Papers 13-434, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:27645
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    1. Goldin, Claudia & Sokoloff, Kenneth, 1982. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(4), pages 741-774, December.
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    4. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2003. "Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2028, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    5. Mohamed Saleh, 2013. "A Pre-Colonial Population Brought to Light: Digitization of the Nineteenth Century Egyptian Censuses," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(1), pages 5-18, March.
    6. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-872.
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    Cited by:

    1. Saleh, Mohamed, 2018. "On the Road to Heaven: Taxation, Conversions, and the Coptic-Muslim Socioeconomic Gap in Medieval Egypt," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 78(2), pages 394-434, June.
    2. Saleh, Mohamed, 2013. "On the Road to Heaven: Self-Selection, Religion, and Socio-Economic Status," IAST Working Papers 13-04, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST), revised Dec 2015.
    3. Meier zu Selhausen, Felix P. & van Leeuwen, Marco H.D. & Weisdorf, Jacob L., 2015. "Social Mobility among Christian Africans: Evidence from Ugandan Marriage Registers 1895-2011," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 239, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

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