This is very interesting and sensitive paper by economists – Adeline Delavande (of Rand Corp) and Basit Zafar (of NY Fed). They combine many interesting aspects of economics – random evaluation, game theory, identity economics etc to look at this question.
In sum, they say there is no evidence that Madrassas foster terrorism. The authors say people widely criticise the role of madrassas. But has there been any evidence verifying the claims?
Madrassas –Islamic religious seminaries– have received considerable attention recently, especially since 9/11. Despite scant research, claims made by policy makers and in the popular press suggest that they may be responsible for fostering militancy, Islamic extremism, international terrorism and violence. Madrassas have sometimes been labeled as “weapons of mass instruction” or “factories for global jihad”, and as such have been perceived as a threat for the West and for individual countries hosting them (Rashid, 2000; Stern, 2000; Malik, 2008; Rahman, 2008; Ali, 2009). In fact, the United States has been encouraging Madrassa reform in the Muslim world, in Pakistan especially where Madrassas are thought to be linked to the Taliban (The 9/11 Commission, 2004; Fair, 2008). Madrassas are widespread around the world and educate an estimated 6 million Muslims (Haqqani, 2004). In Pakistan alone, some estimates suggest that nearly 2 million students attend Madrassas (Candland, 2008). Many Madrassa graduates go on to play an important religious and political leadership role in their communities (Malik, 2008), and are therefore important social and economic actors.
Despite their alleged influence both nationally and internationally, we know very little about the behavior of Madrassa students, and how other groups in their communities interact with them. In this paper, we use unique experimental data that we collected from Madrassa students and from students in other educational institutions in Pakistan to investigate how Madrassa students and other members of the society interact with each other.
In the study, authors analyse this impact looking at three kinds of students:
- Madrassa students — mostly come from poor and rural areas.
- Islamic Universities – teach Islamic principles in gender segregated schools
- Liberal universities – Like American universities – mixed schools, english language classes and give western ideas. For rich people children..
We recruited 1,521 male students from (i) four Madrassas, (ii) one Islamic University, and (iii) two Liberal Universities for our study. Consistent with the a priori on those institutions, there is substantial sorting by socioeconomic characteristics and very different levels of religiosity and exposure to Western ideas across the various groups in the data. For example, Madrassa students’ parental income is one-tenth that of the Liberal University students’ parental income, and their father’s (mother’s) education is about one-half (one-fourth) that in the case of Liberal University students. Self-reported religiosity (on a scale from 0 to 10) is 9.2 among the Madrassa students, 6.3 among Islamic University students, and 5.3 among the Liberal University students.
We randomly match students with each other to participate in several economic decisionmaking experiments. These experiments measure trust (trust game), expected trustworthiness (expectations in the trust game), and unconditional other-regarding behavior such as altruism or inequity aversion (dictator game). These are important aspects of social and economic interactions. In particular, trust has been shown to enhance efficiency and to promote economic growth and financial development (Knack and Keefer, 1997; La Porta et al., 1997; Putnam 2000; Guiso, Sapienza, and Zingales, 2004) especially as in the case in Pakistan when institutions are failing (Ostrom, 1990; Fukuyama, 1995).
They run two games – trust game (where groups are given money and they decide whether to give and keep) and dictator game (groups divide fixed sum of money between themselves and others). Then students are asked how much their group paid and what they expected others to pay them. This helps check facts with expectations….
What are the results? Madrassa students don’t just give more but also believe others have given them more. Liberal schools people underestimate Madrassa students both ways.
Question 1: Does investment behavior in the trust game vary by group (i.e., institution type)?
RESULT 1: Investment behavior in the trust game varies by group, with Madrassa students being more likely to invest.
Question 2: Do students exhibit in-group bias and is there differential treatment (discrimination) in terms of investment against a particular group?
RESULT 2: There is no evidence of in-group bias or of differential treatment to any particular group.
Question 3: Is there taste-based discrimination or stereotyping against a group?
RESULT 3a: Within each group (institution type), there is no taste-based discrimination. Madrassa students exhibit stronger unconditional other-regarding behavior than any other group.
RESULT 3b: There is no systematic difference about perceived trustworthiness of other groups for LU-M and Madrassa students. Madrassa students expect others to be the most trustworthy
Question 4: Are the stereotypes correct?
There is incorrect stereotyping. Liberal University students systematically underestimate the trustworthiness of Madrassa students, while Madrassa students systematically overestimate the trustworthiness of Liberal University students.
Hmmmm… Very interesting indeed. The authors add based on this it does’nt seem that Madrassas promote ideological extremism and hatred. Rather, they seem to be successfully promoting selflessness and inter-group trust among their students, at least toward other segments of the Pakistani society.
The authors then go on to explain various questions associated with the study on sampling bias and peculiar nature of the case. Despite this many questions remain especially with respect to small size of the sample.
So, what hopes for future?
Overall, our findings offer some cautiously optimistic perspective for Pakistan’s future.
Of course, the high and non-discriminatory levels of trust we find pertain to highly educated
groups. However, those groups are likely to be important actors in the economic activity of the
country. Several African countries have experienced remarkable post-conflict economic recovery
and one of the many channels may be that institutions, including trust, have improved as a result
of the conflicts (Cramer, 2006). We can only hope that Pakistan will have a similar fate.
All people in the world would say “Inshaallah” (god willing) to that.
Very interesting paper coming from a central bank. Mixes many economic ideas. One would most likely not agree to the results. But could use the methodology of the paper to look at other problems.
Barring this, it has some nice way of explaining how Pakistan is such a segmented country with huge differences across its states.