Three Essays in Social Economics
This dissertation is composed of three standalone chapters on social economics, a field of inquiry that examines the multifaceted relationships between social and economic phenomena. The first two chapters are motivated by the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. By employing a cross-country dataset on more than 100 financial crises between 1981 and 2007, the first chapter examines the effects of financial crises on indicators of human and social wellbeing. The finding of this chapter is that financial crises independent of their effect on the real economy can have detrimental impacts on human and social wellbeing. The second chapter uses several econometric models and panel data of the U.S. States between 1979 and 2004 to re-examine the link between labor market conditions and suicide in the case of the United States. Through disaggregating the U.S. population across gender and age categories, this chapter finds that deteriorations in labor market conditions has explanatory power for the suicide rates of only those adults who are between 35 and 64 years of age. The third chapter takes a different approach from the first two, undertaking a qualitative historical analysis of the social and institutional factors that may have contributed to the slowdown and subsequent stagnation of the Medieval Islamic civilization in the century leading to and centuries after the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258. This chapter provides a detailed analysis of the Sufi thought and its emergence during the second half of the Islamic Golden Age (750-1258) and its subsequent triumph in throughout the heartland of Islam in Middle East and Central Asia after the Mongol invasion in 1258. It then puts forth a new hypothesis that the Mongol invasion in addition to destroying the physical capital of this region also helped in altering its religious, intellectual, and legal foundations towards a Sufi orientation, contributing to commercial, intellectual, and legal stagnation of this region.