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Education and Religion

  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Bruce I. Sacerdote

In the United States, religious attendance rises sharply with education across individuals, but religious attendance declines sharply with education across denominations. This puzzle is explained if education both increases the returns to social connection and reduces the extent of religious belief, and if beliefs are closely linked to denominations. The positive effect of education on social connection is the result of both treatment and selection: schooling creates social skills and may increase people’s utility from engaging in other social activities such as church attendance. The negative effect of education on religious belief occurs because secular education emphasizes secular beliefs that are at odds with many traditional religious views.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Human Capital.

Volume (Year): 2 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 188-215

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jhucap:v:2:i:2:y:2008:p:188-215
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  1. Montgomery, James D, 1996. "Contemplations on the Economic Approach to Religious Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 443-47, May.
  2. Stark, Rodney & Iannaccone, Laurence R & Finke, Roger, 1996. "Religion, Science, and Rationality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 433-37, May.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose Scheinkman, 2000. "Non-Market Interactions," NBER Working Papers 8053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-79, April.
  5. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
  6. Nigel Tomes, 1984. "The Effects of Religion and Denomination on Earnings and the Returns to Human Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(4), pages 472-488.
  7. Barry R. Chiswick, 1983. "The Earnings and Human Capital of American Jews," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(3), pages 313-336.
  8. Azzi, Corry & Ehrenberg, Ronald G, 1975. "Household Allocation of Time and Church Attendance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(1), pages 27-56, February.
  9. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:811-846 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
  11. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "The Economic Approach to Social Capital," NBER Working Papers 7728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Smith, Ian & Sawkins, John W & Seaman, Paul T, 1998. "The Economics of Religious Participation: A Cross-Country Study," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 25-43.
  13. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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