Articles and Essays

(with Anantdeep Singh) “Economic Modernization Late British India: Hindu-Muslim Differences.” Economic Development and Cultural Change, 61 (2012), in press.

"West is Best? Why Civilizations Rise and Fall". Foreign Affairs, 90 (January-February 2011): 159-63. Printer friendly version.

“Economic Development in the Middle East: The Historical Roles of Culture, Institutions, and Religion,” in Culture and Development , ed. Jean-Philippe Platteau (New York: Routledge, 2010), pp. 87-102.

Explaining the Economic Trajectories of Civilizations: The Systemic Approach.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 71 (2009): 593-605.

"Modern Islam and the Economy," in New Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 6, gen. ed. Michael Cook, vol. ed. Robert Hefner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 467-88.

(with William H. Sandholm) “Cultural Integration and Its Discontents.” Review of Economic Studies, 75 (2008): 201-228.

Institutional Causes of Underdevelopment in the Middle East: A Historical Perspective,” in Institutional Change and Economic Behavior, ed. János Kornai, Laszlo Matyas, and Gérard Roland (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008), pp. 64-76.

"The Absence of the Corporation in Islamic Law: Origins and Persistence."American Journal of Comparative Law, 53 (July 2005): 785-834.

"Cultural Obstacles to Economic Development: Often Overstated, Usually Transitory," in Culture and Public Action: Understanding the Role of Culture and Development Policy in an Unequal World, ed. Vijayendra Rao and Michael Walton (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004), pp. 115-37.

  • Chinese translation: "Jing Ji Fa Zhan De Wen hua Zhang Ai: Jing Chang Bei Kua Da, Tong Chang Shi Duan Zan De." Kai Fang Shi Dai (Open Times), 184 (April 2007): 72-88.

"Moral Overload and Its Alleviation," in Economics, Values, and Organization, ed. Avner Ben-Ner and Louis Putterman (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998): 231-66. Abstract

"Social Mechanisms of Dissonance Reduction ," in Social Mechanisms: An Analytical Approach to Social Theory, ed. Peter Hedström and Richard Swedberg (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 147-71.

"The Unthinkable and the Unthought," Rationality and Society, 5 (October 1993): 473-505. Abstract

"Fundamentalisms and the Economy ," in Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance, ed. Martin Marty and Scott Appleby (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), pp. 289-301.

"Cognitive Limitations and Preference Evolution," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 146 (June 1991): 241-273. Abstract

Comments, replies, edited works, excerpts, short articles

“In Shunning the Analytic Social Sciences, Middle Eastern Economic History Limits Its Own Impact,”

International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

, 44 (2012): in press.


Ghislaine Lydon, On Trans-Saharan Trails: Islamic Law, Trade Networks, and Cross-Cultural Exchange in Nineteenth-Century Western Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), in Journal of Economic History, 69 (December 2009): 1182-84.

Mark Casson, The Economics of Business Culture: Game Theory, Transaction Costs, and Economic Performance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), in Journal of Economic Literature, 31 (March 1993): 234-235.

Jon Elster, The Cement of Society: A Study of Social Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), in Journal of Economic Literature, 28 (September 1990): 1194-1195.

Tibor Scitovsky, Human Desire and Economic Satisfaction (New York: New York University Press, 1986), in Journal of Economic Literature, 25 (December 1987): 1852-1854.

Reuven Brenner, Betting on Ideas: Wars, Invention, Inflation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), in Journal of Economic Literature, 24 (December 1986): 1802-1804.


"Institutions and Economic Performance: A Conversation between Douglass North and Timur Kuran" (41 minute educational video for the Idea Channel, May 2000).

Selected writings for the popular press

Op-ed: "Phase III of the Arab World's Modernization: Building Accountability and Boosting Creativity," pp. 10-11 in World Economic Forum, The Compendium on Economic Governance in the Arab World 2011.

Op-ed: "The Weak Foundations of Arab Democracy," New York Times, May 28, 2011.

The caste system is widely viewed as an obstacle to economic development.

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