Religious Pluralism, Religious Market Shares and the Demand for Religious Schooling
We develop a model of school choice in which the demand for religious schooling is driven partly by the desire of parents to limit their children’s exposure to the influences of competing religions. This framework links the literature on the effects of religious market shares on the within-denomination intensity of religious activity with a separate literature relating religious pluralism to the overall level of religious participation. The model predicts that when a religious group’s share of the local population grows, the fraction of that group’s members whose children attend religious schools decreases. In addition, it implies that the overall demand for religious schooling is a positive function of both the local religiosity level and the level of religious pluralism, as measured by a Herfindahl Index. Using both U.S. county-level data and individual data from ECLS-K and NELS:88, we find evidence strongly consistent with the model’s predictions. Our findings also illustrate that failing to control for the local religiosity level in estimating the effect of religious pluralism on religious participation, as is common in previous studies, may lead a researcher to erroneously conclude that pluralism has a negative effect on participation.
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