"For the love or the Republic" Education, Secularism, and Empowerment
We exploit a change in compulsory schooling laws in Turkey to estimate the causal effects of education on religiosity and women's socio-economic status. A new law, implemented in 1998 bound individuals born after a specific date to 8 years of schooling while those born earlier could drop out after 5 years. This allows the implementation of a Regression Discontinuity (RD) Design and the estimation of meaningful causal estimates of schooling. Using the 2008 Turkish Demographic Health Survey, we show that the reform resulted in a one-year increase in years of schooling among women on average, although it did not increase schooling among men. Over a period of ten years, this education increase resulted in women having lower religiosity, greater decision rights over marriage and fertility, and higher household wealth. We find that a muted average RD effect on labor force participation shrouds heterogenous effects depending on socioeconomic background; women from more socially conservative backgrounds tend to obser ve no increase in labor force participation whereas women from less conservative backgrounds experience a large increase. Education thus empowers women across a wide spectrum of a Muslim society, yet faces limits in allowing women in the conservative communities from realizing their full potential through the labor market. JEL Classification: J16, I25, Z12
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