Benjamin Marx

Sciences Po
Department of Economics
28 Rue des Saints-Peres
75007 Paris

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Institutional Affiliation: Sciences Po

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2020Islam and the State: Religious Education in the Age of Mass Schooling
with Samuel Bazzi, Masyhur Hilmy: w27073
Public schooling systems are an essential feature of modern states. These systems often developed at the expense of religious schools, which undertook the bulk of education historically and still cater to large student populations worldwide. This paper examines how Indonesia’s long-standing Islamic school system responded to the construction of 61,000 public elementary schools in the mid-1970s. The policy was designed in part to foster nation building and to curb religious influence in society. We are the first to study the market response to these ideological objectives. Using novel data on Islamic school construction and curriculum, we identify both short-run effects on exposed cohorts as well as dynamic, long-run effects on education markets. While primary enrollment shifted towards sta...
September 2019Eat Widely, Vote Wisely? Lessons from a Campaign Against Vote Buying in Uganda
with Christopher Blattman, Horacio Larreguy, Otis R. Reid: w26293
We estimate the effects of one of the largest anti-vote-buying campaigns ever studied — with half a million voters exposed across 1427 villages—in Uganda’s 2016 elections. Working with civil society organizations, we designed the study to estimate how voters and candidates responded to their campaign in treatment and spillover villages, and how impacts varied with campaign intensity. Despite its heavy footprint, the campaign did not reduce politician offers of gifts in exchange for votes. However, it had sizable effects on people’s votes. Votes swung from well-funded incumbents (who buy most votes) towards their poorly-financed challengers. We argue the swing arose from changes in village social norms plus the tactical response of candidates. While the campaign struggled to instill norms o...
October 2018The Institutional Foundations of Religious Politics: Evidence from Indonesia
with Samuel Bazzi, Gabriel Koehler-Derrick: w25151
This paper explores the foundations of religious influence in politics and society. We show that an important Islamic institution fostered the entrenchment of Islamism at a critical juncture in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. In the early 1960s, rural elites transferred large amounts of land into waqf —inalienable charitable trusts in Islamic law—to avoid expropriation by the state. Regions facing a greater threat of expropriation exhibit more prevalent waqf land and Islamic institutions endowed as such, including mosques and religious schools. These endowments provided conservative forces with the capital needed to promote Islamist ideology and mobilize against the secular state. We identify lasting effects on the size of the religious sector, electoral support for Islamist...

Published: Samuel Bazzi & Gabriel Koehler-Derrick & Benjamin Marx, 2020. "The Institutional Foundations of Religious Politics: Evidence from Indonesia*," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol 135(2), pages 845-911.

October 2017Voter Mobilization and Trust in Electoral Institutions: Evidence from Kenya
with Vincent Pons, Tavneet Suri: w23946
In a large-scale randomized experiment implemented with Kenya’s Electoral Commission in 2013, text messages intended to mobilize voters boosted electoral participation. However, the messages also decreased trust in electoral institutions after the election. This decrease was stronger for individuals on the losing side of the election and in areas that experienced election-related violence. We hypothesize that the mobilization campaign backfired because the Electoral Commission promised a transparent and orderly electoral process but failed to deliver on these expectations. Several potential mechanisms account for the intervention’s unexpected effects, including a simple model where signaling capacity via mobilization messages can negatively affect beliefs about the fairness of the election...
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