NBER Working Papers and Publications by Giovanni Prarolo

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

Working Papers and Chapters and Reporter Articles

August 2015Islam, Inequality and Pre-Industrial Comparative Development
with Stelios Michalopoulos, Alireza Naghavi: w21506
This study explores the interaction between trade and geography in shaping the Islamic economic doctrine. We build a model where an unequal distribution of land quality in presence of trade opportunities conferred differential gains from trade across regions, fostering predatory behavior by groups residing in the poorly endowed territories. We show that in such an environment it was mutually beneficial to institute an economic system of income redistribution featuring income transfers in return for safe passage to conduct trade. A commitment problem, however, rendered a merely static redistribution scheme unsustainable. Islam developed a set of dynamic redistributive rules that were self-enforcing, in regions where arid lands dominated the landscape. While such principles fostered the expa...

Published: Michalopoulos, Stelios & Naghavi, Alireza & Prarolo, Giovanni, 2016. "Islam, inequality and pre-industrial comparative development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 86-98. citation courtesy of

October 2012Trade and Geography in the Origins and Spread of Islam
with Stelios Michalopoulos, Alireza Naghavi: w18438
This study examines the spatial distribution of Muslim societies shedding light on its geographic origins. The empirical analysis conducted across countries, virtual countries, and ethnicities establishes that geographic inequality and proximity to pre-Islamic trade routes are fundamental determinants of contemporary Muslim adherence. We provide anthropological evidence from historical societies suggesting that geographic inequality (i) increased the importance of trade for subsistence, and (ii) exacerbated social inequality nurturing a predatory environment. We conjecture that Islam with its moral and economic principles was instrumental in providing a centralized authority addressing the underlying economic inequalities and promoting trade.

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us