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The Effect of Education on Religion: Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws

  • Daniel M. Hungerman

For over a century, social scientists have debated how educational attainment impacts religious belief. In this paper, I use Canadian compulsory schooling laws to identify the relationship between completed schooling and later religiosity. I find that higher levels of education lead to lower levels of religious participation later in life. An additional year of education leads to a 4-percentage-point decline in the likelihood that an individual identifies with any religious tradition; the estimates suggest that increases in schooling can explain most of the large rise in non-affiliation in Canada in recent decades.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16973.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as “The Effect of Education on Religion: Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws,” forthcoming at the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16973
Note: CH ED PE
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