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Trade and Geography in the Economic Origins of Islam

Many economists have linked religious affiliation and religiosity to differences in economic performance across countries. A working paper archived on the site of the Association of Religion Data Archives, a source for the highest-quality information and data on American and international religion, explores the origins and spread of Islam in economic terms. The paper, by Stelios Michalopoulos, Alireza Naghavi and Giovanni Prarolo, hypothesizes that Islam flourished along pre-Islamic trade routes that crossed both fertile and infertile geographies. Cultivators in productive lands faced significant threat when engaging in trade, which led to concessions toward dwellers in poor regions to secure passage. That evolved into Islamic economic doctrines that had the long-term effect of limiting wealth accumulation in the pre-industrial world, but limited the potential for people in Muslim lands to grow economically as large-scale trade and capital-intensive industrialization developed.




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Review rank-ordered data on religion in the U.S. and around the world. Includes the latest data from the Religious Congregations & Membership Study, 2010


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