Revolt on the Nile: Economic Shocks, Religion
and Political Influence
February 22, 2011
"Can religious leaders use their popular influence to political ends? This paper explores this question using over 700 years of Nile flood data. Results show that deviant Nile floods reduced the dismissal probability of Egyptís highest-ranking religious authority by roughly one-half. Qualitative evidence suggests this decrease reflects an increase in political power stemming from famine-induced surges in the religious authority's control over popular support. Additional empirical results support this interpretation by linking the observed probability decrease to the number of individuals a religious authority could influence. The paper concludes that the results provide empirical support for theories suggesting religion as a determinant of institutional outcomes."