Political Islam and the Politics of Health Care in the Arab World

2013-15 Seed Grant

This research grant will contribute to a large, multi-country study of political Islam and its impact on health outcomes in the Arab world. The project seeks to define and quantify the Islamic share of the market for medical services, to identify where and to what social groups such services are offered, to test systematically how the provision of Islamic medical services translates (or fails to translate) into political support for parties espousing identifiably Islamic agendas. This project will also trace the impact of Islamist governance on health outcomes—particularly for women. Do they for example, strive to make basic health services more accessible to women and children? Do they limit funding for family planning or for infectious diseases linked to sexual activity?

The project will involve multiple methodologies: GIS mapping of Islamic clinics; interviews with Islamic healthcare providers; statistical analyses of the correlations between Islamic vote shares and the “Islamic” share of the medical market; experimental and mass surveys of citizens’ political attitudes, voting behavior, and patterns of health care usage; and close analyses of health care legislation introduced by Islamist parliamentarians. The grant will be used to undertake a study in Tunisia in the summer of 2013, with a view toward making a larger proposal to a major research agency, such as the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, to undertake further, cross-national research. The project promises not only to shed light on how Islamists view health care, but also the relationship between the provision of health care and winning elections, and how political Islam affects human development outcomes in the countries in which it has risen to power.

Collaborating Institutions




Harvard University