NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Trade and Geography in the Origins and Spread of Islam

Stelios Michalopoulos, Alireza Naghavi, Giovanni Prarolo

NBER Working Paper No. 18438
Issued in October 2012
NBER Program(s):   DEV   EFG   POL

In this study we explore the historical determinants of contemporary Muslim representation. Motivated by a plethora of case studies and historical accounts among Islamicists stressing the role of trade for the adoption of Islam, we construct detailed data on pre-Islamic trade routes, harbors, and ports to determine the empirical regularity of this argument. Our analysis—conducted across countries and across ethnic groups within countries—establishes that proximity to the pre-600 CE trade network is a robust predictor of today's Muslim adherence in the Old World. We also show that Islam spread successfully in regions that are ecologically similar to the birthplace of the religion, the Arabian Peninsula. Namely, territories characterized by a large share of arid and semi- arid regions dotted with few pockets of fertile land are more likely to host Muslim communities. We discuss the various mechanisms that may give rise to the observed pattern.

download in pdf format
   (3501 K)

email paper

This paper was revised on June 12, 2017

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18438

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Gibson, Fendrick, and Chernew w18402 Cost-Sharing and Productivity
Acemoglu, Robinson, and Verdier w18441 Can't We All Be More Like Scandinavians? Asymmetric Growth and Institutions in an Interdependent World
Alesina, Michalopoulos, and Papaioannou w18512 Ethnic Inequality
Gordon w18315 Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds
Fogli, Hill, and Perri w18447 The Geography of the Great Recession
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

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

Contact Us