Abstract Prof. Maya Shatzmiller
Maya Shatzmiller (University of Western Ontario, Canada)
Abstract: Why did the Early Islamic Middle East have the highest standards of living? Wages, Prices and Population Levels
The evidence of prices and wages from the Early Middle East revealed an environment of comparatively high standards of living. This paper argues that various developments in population trends were responsible for economic change, economic resurgence and the high standards of living in the Middle East. It shows that serious population gap developed between the Middle East and Arabia with population levels already low before the Justinian Plague struck the region, sparing Arabia and expediting migration. A new demographic regime emerged in the Middle East, comprised of transition to individual property rights and to low fertility rates that changed income distribution and reinforced women’s property rights. The paper concludes that the role of population trends and human capital in the rise and persistence of high standards of living is underestimated.
Further reading: Şevket Pamuk and Maya Shatzmiller, “Plagues, Wages, and Economic Change in the Islamic Middle East, 700-1500,” The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 74, N0. 1 (March 2014), pp. 196-229, © The Economic History Association 2014 .