I estimate the impact of local Islamic rule on secular education and labor market outcomes with a new and unique dataset of Turkish municipalities. Using a regression discontinuity design, I compare elections where an Islamic party barely won or lost municipal mayor seats. The results show that Islamic rule has had a large positive effect on secular secondary education, predominantly for women. This impact is not only larger when the opposing candidate is from a secular left-wing, instead of a right-wing party; it is also larger in poorer and more pious areas. The participation result extends to the labor market, with fewer women classi fied as housewives, a larger share of employed women receiving wages, and a shift in female employment towards higher-paying sectors. Part of the increased participation, especially in education, seems to come through investment from religious foundations, by providing facilities more tailored toward religious conservatives. Altogether, my fi ndings stand in contrast to the stylized view that more Islamic political representation is invariably associated with adverse development outcomes, especially for women. One interpretation is that limits on religious expression, such as the headscarf ban in public institutions, raise barriers to entry for the poor and pious which Islamic movements may have an advantage in alleviating.
I mean, I’m just sayin’. Emphases mine.