Chris Blattman

Does Islamic rule increase women’s education and wages?

It seems so, at least in moderate Turkey.

Erik Meyersson looks at post-election education and employment trends for women, comparing municipalities where an Islamic party barely won the mayor’s seat to those where an Islamic party barely lost–a regression discontinuity:

Islamic rule has had a large positive effect on education, especially for women. This impact is not only larger when the opposing candidate is from a secular left-wing, instead of a right-wing party; but also in poorer and more pious areas.

This participation result also extends to the labor market, with fewer women classifi…ed as housewives, a larger share of employed women receiving wages, and a shift in female employment towards higher-paying sectors.

Meyersson hails from IISS in Stockholm, and this is his job market paper.

7 Responses

  1. Turkey in any way shape or form does not look like Saudi Arabia, however I would not give Turkey the benefit of being a moderate country when it comes to Islamic tolerance. The founder of Modern Turkey (Mustapha Kemal Ataturk) imposed secularism and the military safeguarded it with iron and steel. I bet that the majority of the population would like to live their life (meaning wearing the veil or not). It is not permitted to wear veil in public, in offices, in schools or universities. The new government is trying to change a few things, he could only go that far for the military would intervene if there is a “derive”.

  2. This is a really interesting article especially considering that local govt’s in Turkey do not have budgetary autonomy. The central govt collects taxes and distributes money to local administration. People usually think that local govt’s that are affiliated with opposition govt’s are going to suffer financially whereas local govt’s that belong to the Prime Minister’s party will benefit from it. Between 1994-2000 there is only a one-year period in which an Islamist Party held the Prime Minister’s office (and then as part of a coalition).
    So it is hard to argue that the effect comes from nepotism or excessive financial support by an Islamist central govt.

  3. Maybe when there is a treat of male domination as a result of Islamic rule, secular women fought with this possiblity by educating themself and trying to get higher wages, in order to have a better social position so that they can be more effecive. It should be kept in mind that the most distinctive characteristic of Turkey is the secular life style, which is not limited with the high income groups, but it is well spread to low income groups and to both urban and rural parts of Turkey.

  4. Interesting paper, though I do not agree on an important semantic point. Mr Meyersson repeatedly uses the term “Islamic Rule” which is quite a jump from what is actually the case; “Islamic aligned party running sections of the government checked by a strong fear of being disbanded if they govern too religiously.”
    I would suggest that Refah Partisi and later the AKP are more successful at gender narrowing the education gap is that the Islamic parties, being relatively fresh on the scene, have less imbedded corruption and are more efficient at governing. It’s not just increased gender egalitarianism but also increased education and labor opportunities for religious and ethnic minorities particularly the Alevi and the Kurds.

  5. Turkey seems to be an exception to Islamic rules. Most other middle eastern Islamic nations
    are probably having a s**t fit over what Turkey does.

    1. Turkey is not an Islamic nation. The difference between an Islamic nation and non-Islamic developing country is that the former has Quran for laws and the latter has mismanagement.

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