Recent evidence in behavioral finance and consumer psychology points to the fact that consumer information processing capabilities are limited and prone to error. Alias paradox and Ellsberg paradox are good examples of this phenomenon. Furthermore, ‘Ultimatum Game’ reflects the fact that people tend to look at their choice outcomes relatively. Prisoner’s Dilemma highlights the fact that choices by each player in a self-centric way are not necessarily going to be best for them either individually or collectively.
Famine, death from hunger and debt enslavement is the fact of life for the half of the people on earth not because that overall, the societies have scarce resources, but because the distribution of resources is inequitable as empirically proven by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and noted by Thomas Piketty in his recent book ‘Capital in the Twenty First Century’.
Studies in primary-data based religious choices or economic choices by religious persons can explain differences in social and economic choices between religious and non-religious groups, but measuring both the religiosity and its causal effect on behavior is difficult to establish. Furthermore, it is only a Godly endeavor to truly judge about religiosity.
Human welfare in Islamic worldview encompasses economic welfare, but comprises much more than that. The achievement of human welfare is sought in both aspects of human life, i.e. worldly life and eternal life hereafter.
Even though the principles like prohibition of Riba and Zakat are binding as rules, they also have an important economic rationale and function in economic matters of an Islamic society. Hence, the mandate of Islamic economics will be to explain their economic merit using experimental and observational data and by applying statistical and other suited techniques to establish certain analytical hypothesis.
As much as people can be selfish, they can be altruist as well. They have free will and they can be as much responsible as they can be reckless. What we need is a conditioning mechanism that nurtures positive tendencies.
In Islamic economic framework, increase in investment through entrepreneurial activities could increase the labor demand and wages. Increase in wages will improve the standard of living of poor labor class and enable them to improve their productivity further.
Both the absence of broad based wealth taxes and the legal decree of allowing compound interest on money capital are the prime sources of wealth concentration. If both are corrected, capitalists would not be able to systematically exploit in competitive markets.
Abbas Mirakhor and Hossein Askari write that the claims of any society to call itself Islamic must be validated by the existence and effective operations of the institutional structure (rules of behavior). They opine that in today’s Muslim societies, the core elements of the institutional structure that would designate a system as Islamic are, by and large, notable for their absence.
Most of the description of human economic behavior in mainstream economics is trivial at best. Mankiw once wrote in a widely used textbook ‘people react to incentives, rest is commentary’. Islamic economics cannot confine itself to commentary on material pursuits alone. In mainstream economics, the important issues of equity, welfare, equitable distribution and institutions that can ensure these are at the periphery rather than at the center.