Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}

Taha Rauf

Comparative Politics

Dissertation Title: “Long-Run Effects of Religious Institutions on Development”

Committee: Mark Tessler (co-chair), Lawrence Root (co-chair), Brian Min, Mark Dincecco, Karen Staller

Summary: I study the divergent implications of historical religious institutions for long-run development and democratic performance—from a comparative perspective. My dissertation involves the use of census-level administrative data from multiple sources across decades to develop large and novel observational village-level datasets for Muslim religious institutions in India. This allows for rigorous statistical analysis and causal inference with multiple placebo tests and instrumental variable analysis, illuminating the channels of persistence. In addition to quantitative methods, I employ multi-site and multi-method qualitative fieldwork, including archival research, participant observation, and in-depth interviews, to elaborate on the institutional differences in coordination mechanisms.

In my dissertation, I demonstrate that legacies of decentralized religious institutions (Sufi Khanaqah) complement the prevailing economic and governance institutions, while legacies of imperial religious institutions (Madrasa Dar-ul-Uloom) compete with centralized institutions. Differences in access to and market dependency of religious institutions durably affect development and electoral outcomes in opposing ways. I provide empirical evidence from the India, where Muslim religious institutions evolved from the 13th century onwards. I construct a novel dataset of their locations for all villages of India, which is integrated with census-level data for the years 1991, 2001, and 2011, road upgradation data for 2000-2015, and pooled assembly election results for 1974-2018.

I also research returns to risk-sharing in microfinance groups and the puzzle of lower infant mortality in the poorer Muslim minority in India. My research has been supported by Rackham fellowships and grants (internal) and the Humane Studies fellowship (external). I was a Rackham Predoctoral fellow and Rackham International fellow as well.