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The Role of Religious and Social Organizations in the Lives of Disadvantaged Youth

In: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective

Author

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  • Rajeev Dehejia
  • Thomas DeLeire
  • Erzo F. P. Luttmer
  • Josh Mitchell

Abstract

This paper examines whether participation in religious or other social organizations can help offset the negative effects of growing up in a disadvantaged environment. Using the National Survey of Families and Households, we collect measures of disadvantage as well as parental involvement with religious and other social organizations when the youth were ages 3 to 19 and we observe their outcomes 13 to 15 years later. We consider a range of definitions of disadvantage in childhood (family income and poverty measures, family characteristics including parental education, and child characteristics including parental assessments of the child) and a range of outcome measures in adulthood (including education, income, and measures of health and psychological wellbeing). Overall, we find strong evidence that youth with religiously active parents are less affected later in life by childhood disadvantage than youth whose parents did not frequently attend religious services. These buffering effects of religious organizations are most pronounced when outcomes are measured by high school graduation or non-smoking and when disadvantage is measured by family resources or maternal education, but we also find buffering effects for a number of other outcome-disadvantage pairs. We generally find much weaker buffering effects for other social organizations.
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Suggested Citation

  • Rajeev Dehejia & Thomas DeLeire & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Josh Mitchell, 2007. "The Role of Religious and Social Organizations in the Lives of Disadvantaged Youth," NBER Chapters,in: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective, pages 237-274 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:0596
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fang, Xiangming & Tarui, Nori, 2015. "Child Maltreatment, Family Characteristics, and Educational Attainment: Evidence from Add Health Data," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205319, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    2. Pal, Sarmistha & Saha, Bibhas, 2014. "In 'Trusts' We Trust: Socially Motivated Private Schools in Nepal," IZA Discussion Papers 8270, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Jennifer M. Mellor & Beth A. Freeborn, 2011. "Religious participation and risky health behaviors among adolescents," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(10), pages 1226-1240, October.
    4. Neidell, Matthew & Waldfogel, Jane, 2009. "Program participation of immigrant children: Evidence from the local availability of Head Start," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 704-715, December.
    5. Zhong Chunping & Pan Li & Shu Lingwei, 2016. "Do religious beliefs affect borrowing behavior? Evidence from Chinese households," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 989-1005, December.
    6. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Stutzer, Alois, 2014. "Economic Approaches to Understanding Change in Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 8131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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