The world's predominantly Muslim countries have long been underdeveloped.
This paper classifies, critiques, and extends the mechanisms that have
been proposed as explanations for the pattern. One mechanism involves the
use of Islam to legitimize worldviews that served vested interests. Another
emphasizes religious obstacles to free thinking and innovation. And still
another focuses on communalist norms that dampened incentives to develop
capitalist economic institutions. None of these explanations elucidates
why groups without any stake in the impediments to growth failed to bring
about major reforms. The missing element is the role of public discourse
in keeping individuals from questioning, even noticing, social inefficiencies.
Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 153 (March 1997): 41-71.