Islam and Economic Performance: Historical and Contemporary Links
Journal of Economic Literature, forthcoming
This essay critically evaluates the analytic literature concerned with causal connections between Islam and economic performance. It focuses on works since 1997, when this literature was last surveyed. Among the findings are the following: Ramadan fasting by pregnant women harms prenatal development; Islamic charities mainly benefit the middle class; Islam affects educational outcomes less through Islamic schooling than through structural factors that handicap learning as a whole; Islamic finance hardly affects Muslim financial behavior; and low generalized trust depresses Muslim trade. The last feature reflects the Muslim world's delay in transitioning from personal to impersonal exchange. The delay resulted from the persistent simplicity of the private enterprises formed under Islamic law. Weak property rights reinforced the private sector's stagnation by driving capital out of commerce and into rigid waqfs. Waqfs limited economic development through their inflexibility and democratization by restraining the development of civil society. Parts of the Muslim world conquered by Arab armies are especially undemocratic, which suggests that early Islamic institutions, including slave-based armies, were particularly critical to the persistence of authoritarian patterns of governance. States have contributed themselves to the persistence of authoritarianism by treating Islam as an instrument of governance. As the world started to industrialize, non-Muslim subjects of Muslim-governed states pulled ahead of their Muslim neighbors by exercising the choice of law they enjoyed under Islamic law in favor of a Western legal system.
"One Nation Under God": The System-Justifying Function of Symbolically Aligning God and Government
Steven Shepherd, Richard Eibach & Aaron Kay
Political Psychology, October 2017, Pages 703-720
Do references to God in political discourse increase confidence in the U.S. sociopolitical system? Using a system justification framework (Jost & Banaji, 1994), five studies provide evidence that, (1) increasingly governments symbolically associate the nation with God when public confidence in the social system may be threatened and (2) associating the nation with God serves a system-justifying function by increasing public confidence in the system. In an analysis of U.S. presidential speeches, presidents were more likely to symbolically associate the nation with God during threatening times (Study 1). Among religious individuals, referencing God in political rhetoric increased the perceived trustworthiness of politicians, compared to patriotic secular rhetoric (Study 2) or simply priming the concept of God (Study 3). These effects were also unique to politicians from one's own sociopolitical system (Study 4). Finally, believing God has a plan for the United States attenuates the deleterious effect that perceptions of national decline have on system confidence (Study 5). Implications for the system-justifying function of religion are discussed.
In God's Hands: How Reminders of God Dampen the Effectiveness of Fear Appeals
Eugenia Wu & Keisha Cutright
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming
To begin building an understanding of how thoughts about God influence consumer persuasion processes and outcomes, the current research explores how reminders of God affect consumer compliance with fear-based advertising. Results across seven studies demonstrate that when the concept of God is salient, consumer compliance and persuasion in response to fear appeals is dampened. Importantly, the results suggest that one reason for this persuasion-dampening effect of God salience is the fact that consumers associate the concept of God with the idea of unlimited support. Consistent with this, the results reveal that when God is not associated with the idea of support, the dampening effect of God salience on fear appeal compliance is eliminated.
Do religious voters discriminate against women gubernatorial candidates?
Mark Setzler & Alixandra Yanus
Politics, Groups, and Identities, forthcoming
Scholars report that areas with higher concentrations of religious voters elect relatively few women to executive office. These studies, however, cannot explain whether the observed patterns are a direct result of religious individuals' vote choices. Our study explores this question using Cooperative Congressional Election Studies data from all mixed-gender gubernatorial elections in the 2008 through 2016 general election cycles. We conclude that religious voters, regardless of religious tradition or gender, are not significant barriers to electing women to state executive office. More specifically, religious individuals are disproportionately supportive of Republican women and opposed to Democratic women, even when controlling for the ideological distance between the individual's partisanship and that of the candidate.
Trade and Geography in the Spread of Islam
Stelios Michalopoulos, Alireza Naghavi & Giovanni Prarolo
Economic Journal, forthcoming
This study explores the historical determinants of the spread of Islam. Motivated by a plethora of historical accounts stressing the role of trade for the adoption of Islam, we construct detailed data on pre-Islamic trade routes to determine this empirical regularity. Our analysis establishes that proximity to the pre-600 CE trade network is a robust predictor of today's Muslim adherence across countries and ethnic groups in the Old World. We also show that Islam spread successfully in regions ecologically similar to the birthplace of the religion, Arabian Peninsula, and discuss various mechanisms that may give rise to the observed pattern.
Origin of the RNA world: The fate of nucleobases in warm little ponds
Ben Pearce et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming
Before the origin of simple cellular life, the building blocks of RNA (nucleotides) had to form and polymerize in favorable environments on early Earth. At this time, meteorites and interplanetary dust particles delivered organics such as nucleobases (the characteristic molecules of nucleotides) to warm little ponds whose wet-dry cycles promoted rapid polymerization. We build a comprehensive numerical model for the evolution of nucleobases in warm little ponds leading to the emergence of the first nucleotides and RNA. We couple Earth's early evolution with complex prebiotic chemistry in these environments. We find that RNA polymers must have emerged very quickly after the deposition of meteorites (less than a few years). Their constituent nucleobases were primarily meteoritic in origin and not from interplanetary dust particles. Ponds appeared as continents rose out of the early global ocean, but this increasing availability of "targets" for meteorites was offset by declining meteorite bombardment rates. Moreover, the rapid losses of nucleobases to pond seepage during wet periods, and to UV photodissociation during dry periods, mean that the synthesis of nucleotides and their polymerization into RNA occurred in just one to a few wet-dry cycles. Under these conditions, RNA polymers likely appeared before 4.17 billion years ago.
Religious Affiliation and Work-Family Conflict Among Women and Men
Matthew May & Jeremy Reynolds
Journal of Family Issues, forthcoming
Religion is an important part of life for many women and men. Research on religion and work-family issues, however, remains limited. To better understand how religion influences work-family experiences, we use data from the General Social Survey to examine subjective experiences of work-family conflict across three religious groups and the nonreligious. Specifically, we examine how conservative Protestants, Catholics/Orthodox Christians, mainline Protestants, and the nonreligious differ in their perceptions of work-to-family and family-to-work conflict. We find that conservative Protestant women, but not men, report less work-to-family conflict and less family-to-work conflict than their peers in other religious groups even after controlling for religious service attendance, specific job features, and sociodemographic characteristics. Catholic/Orthodox men report less family-to-work and family-to-work conflict than conservative Protestant men. We suggest that researchers examine religion more closely to determine if the experiences of conservative Protestant women and Catholic/Orthodox men hold useful lessons for others.
Study on a Christian Chinese sample: Sense of self-worth, well-being and locus of control
Fei Wu, Qin Gong & Yanqing Dai
Mental Health, Religion & Culture, August 2017, Pages 239-245
The purpose of this study was to explore Chinese Christians' sense of self-worth, well-being, locus of control and the correlations between these variables. One hundred and two Chinese Christians with a range of 18-40 years old were surveyed by the Scale of Self-worth, Chinese version of General Well-Being Scale and internal-external Locus of Control Scale. A control group of 134 Chinese non-Christians participated in the same survey. Christians scored lower on locus of control and higher on self-worth than the non-Christians. No significant general well-being difference was between the Christian and non-Christian samples. The correlations were significant between locus of control and self-worth/general well-being (negative) and between self-worth and general well-being (positive). Results suggest that Christians experience better self-worth and tend to be internals on locus of control.
Don't get mad: The disconnect between religious discrimination and individual perceptions of government
Jonathan Fox, Chris Bader & Jennifer McClure
Conflict Management and Peace Science, forthcoming
This study examines whether objective discrimination against religious minorities causes individual members of a minority to form grievances and engage in political activity against the government using data from the World Values Survey and Religion and State-Minorities datasets. We find that higher levels of objective discrimination do not predict more grievances and organizing activity. This contradicts predictions made by relative deprivation theory but is consistent with a social psychology literature which finds a "personal/group discrimination discrepancy." That is, objective discrimination often has little influence on grievances expressed by individuals. Taking these findings, along with the failure of the empirical literature to support relative deprivation theory, the relative success of the grievances-based literature, the arguments of the mobilization literature, and a brief case study we argue that the key factor explaining collective action is the effort of group leaders to mobilize the grievances of group members.