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Matt Blackwell (Gov)


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21 March 2011

Chaney on "Economic Shocks, Religion and Political Influence"

We hope you can join us at the Applied Statistics Workshop this Wednesday, March 23rd, when we are excited to have Eric Chaney from the Department of Economics here at Harvard. Eric will be presenting his paper entitled “Revolt on the Nile: Economic Shocks, Religion and Political Influence.” You’ll find an abstract below. As usual, we will begin at 12 noon with a light lunch and wrap up by 1:30pm.

“Revolt on the Nile: Economic Shocks, Religion and Political Influence”
Eric Chaney
Department of Economics, Harvard University
Wednesday, March 23rd, 12 noon
CGIS Knafel 354 (1737 Cambridge St)


Can religious leaders use their popular influence to political ends? This paper explores this question using over 700 years of Nile flood data. Results show that deviant Nile floods were related to significant decreases in the probability of change of the highest-ranking religious authority. Qualitative evidence suggests this decrease reflects an increase in political power stemming from famine-induced surges in the religious authority’s control over popular support. Additional empirical results support this interpretation by linking the observed probability decrease to the number of individuals a religious authority could influence. The paper concludes that the results provide empirical support for theories suggesting religion as a determinant of institutional outcomes.

Posted by Matt Blackwell at 3:37 PM