Render Unto Caesar: Taxes, Charity, and Political Islam

64 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2016  

Maleke Fourati

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Economics

Gabriele Gratton

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Economics

Pauline A. Grosjean

UNSW Business School, School of Economics

Date Written: June 14, 2016

Abstract

Data from the first post-Arab Spring elections reveal that support for Islamic parties came from richer districts and individuals. We show that standard public finance arguments help explain the voting pattern in these elections and others in the Muslim world. Our model predicts that a voter’s probability to vote for a religious party (i) increases in income for the poorest voters, but possibly decreases in income for the richest; (ii) is greater for voters in richer districts; and (iii) increases with the voter’s religiosity. We test these predictions on original micro-level data in a nationally representative sample of 600 individuals in 30 districts in Tunisia. Our empirical results align with our predictions and suggest that belonging to the middle class and living in a richer district together affect voting decisions more than being a religious voter. We also test for other possible factors affecting voting decisions, such as education, or attitudes towards corruption or towards the West. Finally, we document similar patterns in other key elections in the Muslim world.

Keywords: Religion, Religious Parties, Political Preferences, Democratic Politics, Charitable Organizations

JEL Classification: D72, Z12

Suggested Citation

Fourati, Maleke and Gratton, Gabriele and Grosjean, Pauline A., Render Unto Caesar: Taxes, Charity, and Political Islam (June 14, 2016). UNSW Business School Research Paper No. 2016-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2801892 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2801892

Maleke Fourati

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Gabriele Gratton (Contact Author)

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Pauline A. Grosjean

UNSW Business School, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

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