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date: 27 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The world’s fastest-growing Muslim population resides in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that experiences the lowest levels of economic and human development globally. This chapter shows that Muslims in Africa often experience worse development outcomes than Christians. Across countries, Muslim majority countries are on average poorer, with higher levels of child mortality and lower levels of education, than countries where Muslims are a minority. Within countries, Muslims have fewer years of education than Christians, and experience higher rates of child mortality in a number of countries as well. The chapter discusses three channels through which religion may matter in explaining these divergent development trajectories: institutions, norms and beliefs, and geography. There is evidence of a role for both institutions and norms and beliefs in explaining gaps in development outcomes between Christians and Muslims. However, it is not necessarily the religious content of institutions or beliefs that matters. Colonial legacies that differ across Muslim and non-Muslim areas and the historical role of Christian missionaries in providing social services in Africa are among the factors that also appear to affect long-term development trajectories.

Keywords: education, health, Islam, norms, institutions, Christian missionaries, Africa

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