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The effect of education on religion: Evidence from compulsory schooling laws

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  • Hungerman, Daniel M.

Abstract

For over a century, social scientists have debated how educational attainment impacts religious belief. In this paper, I use Canadian compulsory schooling laws to identify the relationship between completed schooling and later religiosity. I find that higher levels of education lead to lower levels of religious affiliation later in life. An additional year of education leads to a 4-percentage-point decline in the likelihood that an individual identifies with any religious tradition. This is a reasonably large effect: extrapolating the results to the broader population would suggest that increases in schooling could explain most of the large rise in non-affiliation in Canada in recent decades.

Suggested Citation

  • Hungerman, Daniel M., 2014. "The effect of education on religion: Evidence from compulsory schooling laws," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 52-63.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:104:y:2014:i:c:p:52-63
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2013.09.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Mocan, Naci & Pogorelova, Luiza, 2017. "Compulsory schooling laws and formation of beliefs: Education, religion and superstition," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 509-539.
    2. Maryam Dilmaghani, 2018. "Which is greener: secularity or religiosity? Environmental philanthropy along religiosity spectrum," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 20(2), pages 477-502, April.
    3. Fletcher, Jason & Kumar, Sanjeev, 2014. "Religion and risky health behaviors among U.S. adolescents and adults," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 123-140.
    4. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    5. Resul Cesur & Naci Mocan, 2018. "Education, religion, and voter preference in a Muslim country," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 31(1), pages 1-44, January.
    6. Resul Cesur & Naci H. Mocan, 2013. "Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country," NBER Working Papers 19769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Hungerman, Daniel & Rinz, Kevin & Weninger, Tim & Yoon, Chungeun, 2018. "Political campaigns and church contributions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 403-426.
    8. Ylenia Brilli & Marco Tonello, 2018. "Does Increasing Compulsory Education Decrease or Displace Adolescent Crime? New Evidence from Administrative and Victimization Data," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 64(1), pages 15-49.
    9. Naci Mocan & Luiza Pogorelova, 2014. "Compulsory Schooling Laws and Formation of Beliefs: Education, Religion and Superstition," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1423, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    10. Becker, Sascha O. & Nagler, Markus & Woessmann, Ludger, 2014. "Education Promoted Secularization," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 186, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    11. Pellicer, Miquel, 2018. "The evolution of returns to education in the Middle East and North Africa: Evidence from comparable education policy changes in Tunisia," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 183-191.
    12. Strulik, Holger, 2016. "An economic theory of religious belief," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 35-46.
    13. Liang, Yinhe & Dong, Zhiyong, 2019. "Has education led to secularization? Based on the study of compulsory education law in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 324-336.
    14. Masuda, Kazuya & Yudhistira, Muhammad Halley, 2020. "Does education secularize the Islamic population? The effect of years of schooling on religiosity, voting, and pluralism in Indonesia," CEI Working Paper Series 2019-11, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    15. Mocan, Naci & Pogorelova, Luiza, 2014. "Compulsory Schooling Laws and Formation of Beliefs: Education, Religion and Superstition," IZA Discussion Papers 8698, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Naci Mocan & Luiza Pogorelova, 2014. "Compulsory Schooling Laws and Formation of Beliefs: Education, Religion and Superstition," NBER Working Papers 20557, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Roth, Christopher & Sumarto, Sudarno, 2015. "Does Education Increase Interethnic and Interreligious Tolerance? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," MPRA Paper 64558, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Zotti, Roberto & Speziale, Nino & Barra, Cristian, 2014. "On the causal effect of religion on life satisfaction using a propensity score matching technique," MPRA Paper 60066, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Imam Alam & Shahina Amin & Ken McCormick, 2018. "Income, Education, and Three Dimensions of Religiosity in the USA," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 44(4), pages 501-518, September.
    20. Sascha Becker & Markus Nagler & Ludger Woessmann & Sascha O. Becker, 2014. "Education Promoted Secularization," CESifo Working Paper Series 4684, CESifo Group Munich.
    21. Sansani, Shahar, 2015. "The differential impact of compulsory schooling laws on school quality in the United States segregated South," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 64-75.
    22. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2017. "Religion and work: Micro evidence from contemporary Germany," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 193-214.
    23. Kuenzi, Michelle, 2018. "Education, religious trust, and ethnicity: The case of Senegal," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 254-263.
    24. Sascha O. Becker & Markus Nagler & Ludger Woessmann, 2017. "Education and religious participation: city-level evidence from Germany’s secularization period 1890–1930," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 273-311, September.
    25. Alexandra Georgiana PARASCA, 2015. "The Influence Of Income And Education Level On Issues Of Religion In Romania," CES Working Papers, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 7(1), pages 147-155, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education; Religion;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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