Is Islam really a development blockade? 12 predictors of development, including membership in the Organization of Islamic Conference, and their influence on 14 indicators of development in 109 countries of the world with completely available data
With all the talk in Europe about “Islam” and “Muslim culture” it is surprising how little hard-core empirical evidence exists on the compatibility of “Muslim culture” with positive patterns of political, social, and ecological development in the world system in the 1980s, 1990s, and beyond. This article tries to close this gap by using latest (United Nations and other data) and multivariate techniques, investigating the determination of 14 indicators of development in 109 countries with complete data by 12 determinants of development, including membership in the 57 member and 3 observer Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), comprising 57 members and 3 observer states. The empirical record, presented in this essay, speaks a clear language in favor of Islamic democracy and against those in the West that attempt to treat Islamic cultural heritage as a general development burden. It should be also clear that a reliance on the “Washington Consensus” alone will not “fix” the performance of countries beyond a better and more predictable “development stability”. The most consistent consequence of the “dependency” analysis of this essay is the realization that a reliance on foreign capital in the short term might bring about positive consequences for employment – especially female employment – but that the long-term negative consequences of dependence in the social sphere, but also for sustainable development, outweigh the immediate, positive effects. Our three-fold empirical understanding of the process of globalization – reliance on foreign savings, MNC penetration and unequal transfer, - goes beyond the average analysis of the workings of dependency structures and shows how different aspects of dependency negatively affect development performance. The integration of the countries of the periphery into larger currency blocs – quite contrary to what the “Washington Consensus” has to say about “competitive currencies” - will be one of the most important tasks for international development strategies for years to come. EU membership, by contrast, under the present institutional conditions of the EU – not as it should be but as it is - fails to have sufficiently enough dynamic effects and its democratic deficits become ever more clear. In terms of the size of the quantitative effects on the 14 dimensions of development under investigation here, it is shown that the new political structures associated with political feminism that substituted patriarchic structures inherent in practically all world regions for much of the 19th and the early 20th Century have a very considerable effect on the development outcomes of today. Feminism in power – i.e. the share of women in positions of political decision making - achieves to transform many aspects of development, but, as other “distribution coalitions” before it, creates certain aspects of stagnation as well and thus is not free from the effects of the logic of “collective action”. Islamic culture is not a development blockade; on the contrary. Membership in the Islamic Conference has – ceteris paribus – a very positive effect on political democracy, on life expectancy, and on our indicators of the Kyoto-process and the eco-social market economy. Far from being a “religion of the Middle Ages” Islam has an important message for the 21st Century. The article also analyses recent trends in the structure of international saving, pension systems and the dynamics of “unequal transfer”. It emerges that the European Center is going to become the main loser in the structural changes that affect the position of Europe in the 21st Century.