In the data from Wikipedia, Turkey has a religious fractionalization index value of 0.0049 which makes it the fifth least fractionalized country.

But from this data it can be seen that 20 percent of the society belongs to a different branch of Islam.

Given that, why is the religious fractionalization index so low for Turkey?

  • 1
    Given Kurdish situation, I'm actually very skeptical of such a low index value. Not sure how it's computed.
    – user4012
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 22:30
  • 1
    Here is a paper also mentioning a "religious fractionalization index" (Alesina’s data (table 3) is identical to the wikipedia data). No computation method is mentioned. I consider it to be implausible/inconsistent/nonsense regarding the Turkey data (1985: 0.0159 2000: 0.4814 Alesina (2003?: 0.0049)
    – klanomath
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


After reading the paper linked in my comment more thoroughly I found the computational method:

It's (1 - (normalized) Herfandahl index). (Page 198, 1st paragraph, sentence 3 in the PDF)
A high number indicates a high fractionalization, a low number (near zero) a mono-religious society (e.g. the State of Vatican City with 100% Roman-Catholics has an RFI of 0.0000 (1 - (1²) = 0.0000)).

Depending on whether you subsume or split all Islamic branches you will get different results for the Religious Fractionalization Index.

Assuming the percentages are:

  • 80% Sunni 18% Alevi 1.5% Alawi (sums up to 99.5%)
  • 0,2% Christian
  • 0,04% Jewish

you get two different results:

1 - (0.995²+0.002²+0.0004²) = 0.00995


1 - (0.8²+0.18²+0.015²+0.002²+0.0004²) = 0.327

Alesina probably didn't take into account the different Islamic branches in his Religious Fractionalization Index for some countries and got a result of almost zero for the Turkish society. The same non-distinction was applied to Yemen (~62% Sunni/~38% Shia or 100% Muslim) but probably not to Saudi Arabia (~88% Sunni/12% Shia or 100% Muslim - not considering 1.5 Mio Christian and 0.4 Mio Hindu foreign workers) and an RFI of 0.127 or Afghanistan (~80% Sunni/~20% Shia or 100% Muslim) and an RFI of 0.2717.

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