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Education and Religion

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  • Bruce Sacerdote
  • Edward L. Glaeser

Abstract

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. The positive effect of education on sociability explains the positive education-religion relationship. The negative effect of education on religious belief causes more educated individuals to sort into less fervent religions, which explains the negative reelationship between education and religion across denominations. Cross-country differences in the impact of education on religious belief can explain the large cross-country variation in the education-religion connection. These cross-country differences in the education-belief relationship can be explained by political factors (such as communism) which lead some countries to use state-controlled education to discredit religion.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Sacerdote & Edward L. Glaeser, 2001. "Education and Religion," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1913, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1913
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    File URL: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/pub/hier/2001/HIER1913.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose Scheinkman, 2000. "Non-Market Interactions," NBER Working Papers 8053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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 222-279, April.
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      • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    6. Stark, Rodney & Iannaccone, Laurence R & Finke, Roger, 1996. "Religion, Science, and Rationality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 433-437, May.
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    12. 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.
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    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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