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Law, State Power, and Taxation in Islamic History

  • Metin Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Rasha Ahmed

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

The ruler's power varied greatly in Islamic history over time and space. We explain these variations with a political economy approach to public finance, identifying factors affecting economic power and its constraints. An influential interest group capable of affecting the ruler's power was the legal community ('ulama'). This community could increase the ruler's ability to extract a surplus from the citizenry by conferring legitimacy, thereby lowering the cost of tax-collection. It could also limit power through legal constraints on taxation. We show how changes in legitimacy and legal constraints affected the economic power of rulers in representative episodes of Islamic history and identify general trends and dynamic processes underlying the relationship between the state and the legal community.

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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2007-01.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision: Jul 2008
Publication status: Forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2009
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2007-01
Note: We thank Barclay Rosser, Timur Kuran, and two anonymous referees for detailed comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this paper presented at the Economic Research on Civilizations Conference on "The Economic Performance of Civilizations: Roles of Culture, Religion, and the Law," held at the University of Southern California in February, 2007. We have also received useful comments from other participants at the IERC conference and participants at the 2007 Economic History Association meetings in Austin, TX, and in seminars at UConn, Wesleyan, and Yale. We are grateful to Templeton/Metanexus Institute for financial support received through the IERC.
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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Legal Origins," NBER Working Papers 8272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Landes, William M & Posner, Richard A, 1976. "Legal Precedent: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 249-307, August.
  3. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Pop-Eleches, Cristian & Shleifer, Andrei, 2004. "Judicial Checks and Balances," Scholarly Articles 3451311, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Metin M. CoÅŸgel & Thomas J. Miceli, 2009. "Tax Collection in History," Public Finance Review, , vol. 37(4), pages 399-420, July.
  5. Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2001. "Legal Theories of Financial Development," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 483-501.
  6. Miceli, Thomas J. & Cosgel, Metin M., 1994. "Reputation and judicial decision-making," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 31-51, January.
  7. Martin C. McGuire & Mancur Olson Jr., 1996. "The Economics of Autocracy and Majority Rule: The Invisible Hand and the Use of Force," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 72-96, March.
  8. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, . "Law and Finance," Working Paper 19451, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  9. Simeon Djankov & Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 2003. "The New Comparative Economics," NBER Working Papers 9608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Timur Kuran, 2004. "Why the Middle East is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 71-90, Summer.
  11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521583299 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. George Tridmas, 2005. "Judges and Taxes: Judicial Review, Judicial Independence and the Size of Government," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 5-30, 01.
  13. Oran, Ahmad & Rashid, Salim, 1989. "Fiscal Policy in Early Islam," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 44(1), pages 75-101.
  14. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
  15. Leopoldo Fergusson, 2006. "Institutions for Financial Development: What are they and where do they come from?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 27-70, 02.
  16. Metin Cosgel & Thomas Miceli, 2008. "State and Religion," Working papers 2008-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2009.
  17. Barry R. Weingast, 2005. "The Constitutional Dilemma of Economic Liberty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 89-108, Summer.
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