Timur Kuran

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Timur Kuran
Timur Kuran 11-2003(hi-res).jpg
Born1954 (age 67–68)
NationalityAmerican, Turkish
InstitutionDuke University
FieldPolitical economy
Economic history
Alma materPrinceton University (B.A.)
Stanford University (Ph.D.)
Kenneth Arrow
ContributionsPreference falsification

Timur Kuran is a Turkish American economist, Professor of Economics and Political Science, and Gorter Family Professor in Islamic Studies at Duke University. His work spans economics, political science, history, and legal studies.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Kuran was born in New York City in 1954, where his parents were graduate students at Yale University. They returned to Turkey, and he spent his early childhood in Ankara (where his father taught at the Middle East Technical University). The family moved to Istanbul while Kuran was a teenager, and, for a decade, he lived just off the campus of Boğaziçi University, where his father was president and professor of Islamic architectural history.

Kuran obtained his secondary education in Turkey, graduating from Robert College in Istanbul in 1973. He then studied economics at Princeton University, graduating magna cum laude in 1977. He went on to Stanford University where he obtained a doctorate in economics, supervised by Nobel laureate Professor Kenneth Arrow.[2]


From 1990 to 2008 Kuran served as editor of an interdisciplinary book series published by the University of Michigan Press. This series was re-established at Cambridge University Press in 2009 under the title Cambridge Studies in Economics, Cognition and Society. He has served, or currently serves, on the editorial or advisory boards of numerous scholarly journals. He taught at University of Southern California between 1982 and 2007, where he held the King Faisal professorship in Islamic thought and culture from 1993 onwards. From 2005 to 2007, he was Director of USC's Institute for Economic Research on Civilizations, which he founded. In 1989–90 he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; in 1996–97 he held the John Olin visiting professorship at the Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago; and in 2004–05 he was visiting professor of economics at Stanford University.[3] From 2008 to 2014 he was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Economic Association.[4]


Private Truths, Public Lies[edit]

In 1995, Kuran published “Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification”, where he coined the term and developed the concept of preference falsification. This is the idea that people will publicly state they believe one thing, while privately believing another, or even its opposite, in order to appear socially acceptable to others. Preference falsification is often prevalent in totalitarian regimes, or where the negative social consequences of articulating a contrary opinion are severe. This book expands on his earlier work about how soviet bloc fell.[5]

The Long Divergence[edit]

In 2011, Kuran published "The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East" summarizing his arguments on the institutional roots of the Middle East's economic stagnation.

Reviews include: "The Crescent and the Company," by Schumpeter in the Economist;[6] "Is Islam the Problem?" by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times;[7] "The Long Divergence," by Ziauddin Sardar in the Independent;[8] "Prophet Motive," by John Cassidy in the New Yorker;[9] "Selling Out the Koran," by Chris Berg in the National Times of Australia;[10] "Long Divergence," by L. Carl Brown in Foreign Affairs;[11] "What Made the Middle East Fall Behind the West?," by Şahin Alpay in Today's Zaman;[12] Kai Ryssdal's radio interview on Marketplace: "Historical Roots of Middle Eastern Uprisings."[13] An essay summarizing key arguments: "Legal Roots of Economic Underdevelopment in the Middle East", European Financial Review (Feb–Mar 2011): 10–11.[14] Peter Passell provides a review and long excerpt in the Milken Institute Review, 13 (2011): 59–76.[15]


  1. ^ "Sabancı University – Events". March 5, 2009. Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  2. ^ Jerry Oster (February 11, 2008). "Meet the New Faculty: Timur Kuran | Duke Today". News.duke.edu. Archived from the original on July 14, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  3. ^ "Timur Kuran, Professor of Economics and Political Science and Gorter Family Chair in Islamic Studies". Fds.duke.edu. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  4. ^ "Timur Kuran: CV" (PDF). sites.duke.edu. April 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 26, 2021. Retrieved June 26, 2021.
  5. ^ Kuran, Timur (October 1991). "Now out of Never: The Element of Surprise in the East European Revolution of 1989". World Politics. 44 (1): 7–48. doi:10.2307/2010422. ISSN 0043-8871.
  6. ^ "Schumpeter: The crescent and the company". The Economist. January 27, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  7. ^ Kristof, Nicholas D. (March 5, 2011). "Is Islam the Problem?". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Sardar, Ziauddin (January 28, 2011). "The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East, By Timur Kuran – Reviews, Books". The Independent. UK. Archived from the original on June 21, 2022. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  9. ^ Cassidy, John (August 1, 2011). "Islam and the Lagging Economies of the Arab World". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  10. ^ "Selling out the Koran". Sydney Morning Herald. March 6, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  11. ^ Timur Kuran (March 1, 2011). "The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  12. ^ "What made the Middle East fall behind the West?". Todayszaman.com. Archived from the original on December 6, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  13. ^ "Marketplace from American Public Media". Marketplace.publicradio.org. Retrieved October 18, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 27, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 26, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]