Islam and Human Capital Formation

Eric Chaney

in The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Religion

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780195390049
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Islam and Human Capital Formation

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  • Economics
  • Labour and Demographic Economics
  • Economic History


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Given the rich scientific tradition of the Muslim world, current levels of scientific production in predominantly Muslim countries are surprisingly low. A recent survey of the state of scientific production in Muslim countries found that forty-six predominantly Muslim countries produced 1.17 percent of the world's science literature between 1997 and 2007. The historical record provides evidence that religious diversity and religious tolerance helped constrain Islam's conservative elements for hundreds of years. This article examines the extent to which the behavior of Muslim religious authorities helps explain the evolution of Muslim scientific development in the premodern era. It begins by providing a brief overview of scientific production throughout Islamic history and then examines the role of religion in both the flourishing and stagnation of Muslim science. The conclusion provides suggestions for future research and examines the extent to which the historical evolution of Islam provides lessons for encouraging scientific progress today.

Keywords: Islam; science; Muslim countries; religion; scientific development; religious tolerance; religious diversity

Article.  3964 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Labour and Demographic Economics ; Economic History

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