Reading, Writing, and Religion: Institutions and Human Capital Formation

Posted: 6 Jun 2010 Last revised: 28 Jun 2010

Latika Chaudhary

Naval Postgraduate School

Jared Rubin

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics

Date Written: June 1, 2010

Abstract

In this paper, we empirically test the role that religious and political institutions play in the accumulation of human capital. Using a new data set on literacy in colonial India, we find that Muslim literacy is negatively correlated with the proportion of Muslims in the district, although we find no similar result for Hindu literacy. We employ a theoretical model which suggests that districts which experienced a more recent collapse of Muslim political authority had more powerful and better funded religious authorities, who established religious schools which were less effective at promoting literacy on the margin than state schools. We test this hypothesis econometrically, finding that the period of Muslim political collapse has a statistically significant effect on Muslim literacy while controlling for it eliminates the significance of the proportion of Muslims on Muslim literacy. This suggests that the “long hand of history” has played some role in subsequent differences in human capital formation through the persistence of institutions discouraging literacy.

Keywords: Human Capital, Literacy, Islam, Hinduism, Institutions, India

JEL Classification: H52, I22, I28, J24, N35, Z10

Suggested Citation

Chaudhary, Latika and Rubin, Jared, Reading, Writing, and Religion: Institutions and Human Capital Formation (June 1, 2010). Journal of Comparative Economics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1620552

Latika Chaudhary

Naval Postgraduate School ( email )

1 University Circle
Monterey, CA 93043
United States

Jared Rubin (Contact Author)

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.jaredcrubin.com

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