Friday, April 25, 2008

Consequences of the Hajj

David Clingingsmith, Asim Ijaz Khwaja and Michael Kremer:
We find that Hajjis (those who have performed the Hajj) are more likely to undertake universally accepted global Muslim religious practices such as fasting and performing obligatory and supererogatory (optional) prayers. The Hajj reduces performance of less universally accepted, more localized practices such as using amulets and the necessity of giving dowry. For example, the Hajj increases regularly praying in the mosque by 26% and almost doubles the likelihood of nonobligatory fasting. At the same time, it reduces the practice of using amulets by 8% and the South Asian belief of according unequal marriage priority to widows relative to unmarried women by 18%.

The evidence suggests that the Hajj increases tolerance, which seems to apply not just within the Islamic world but also beyond it. Hajjis return with more positive views towards people from other countries. Hajjis are also more likely to state that various Pakistani ethnic and Muslim sectarian groups are equal, and that it is possible for such groups to live in harmony. These views of equality and harmony extend to non-Muslims as well. Hajjis are 22% more likely to declare that people of different religions are equal and 11% more likely to state that adherents of different religions can live in harmony.
Concerned that these results merely reflect predispositions of those who would choose to attend the Hajj? Note that their method "method compares successful and unsuccessful applicants in a lottery used by Pakistan to allocate Hajj visas."

Find the paper here. Thanks to Chris Blattman for the pointer.



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