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

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  • Daniel M. Hungerman

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel M. Hungerman, 2011. "The Effect of Education on Religion: Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws," NBER Working Papers 16973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16973
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    1. repec:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:509-539 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:spr:envpol:v:20:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10018-017-0201-x is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fletcher, Jason & Kumar, Sanjeev, 2014. "Religion and risky health behaviors among U.S. adolescents and adults," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 123-140.
    4. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    5. repec:spr:jopoec:v:31:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0650-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Resul Cesur & Naci H. Mocan, 2013. "Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country," NBER Working Papers 19769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Daniel M. Hungerman & Kevin Rinz & Tim Weninger & Chungeun Yoon, 2018. "Political Campaigns and Church Contributions," NBER Working Papers 24374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Brilli, Ylenia & Tonello, Marco, 2016. "Does increasing compulsory education decrease or displace adolescent crime? New evidence from administrative and victimization data," Working Papers in Economics 676, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    9. Naci Mocan & Luiza Pogorelova, 2014. "Compulsory Schooling Laws and Formation of Beliefs: Education, Religion and Superstition," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1423, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    10. Becker, Sascha O. & Nagler, Markus & Woessmann, Ludger, 2014. "Education Promoted Secularization," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 186, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    11. Strulik, Holger, 2016. "An economic theory of religious belief," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 35-46.
    12. Mocan, Naci & Pogorelova, Luiza, 2014. "Compulsory Schooling Laws and Formation of Beliefs: Education, Religion and Superstition," IZA Discussion Papers 8698, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Naci Mocan & Luiza Pogorelova, 2014. "Compulsory Schooling Laws and Formation of Beliefs: Education, Religion and Superstition," NBER Working Papers 20557, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Roth, Christopher & Sumarto, Sudarno, 2015. "Does Education Increase Interethnic and Interreligious Tolerance? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," MPRA Paper 64558, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Zotti, Roberto & Speziale, Nino & Barra, Cristian, 2014. "On the causal effect of religion on life satisfaction using a propensity score matching technique," MPRA Paper 60066, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Sansani, Shahar, 2015. "The differential impact of compulsory schooling laws on school quality in the United States segregated South," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 64-75.
    17. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2017. "Religion and work: Micro evidence from contemporary Germany," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 193-214.
    18. repec:kap:jecgro:v:22:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10887-017-9142-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Alexandra Georgiana PARASCA, 2015. "The Influence Of Income And Education Level On Issues Of Religion In Romania," CES Working Papers, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 7(1), pages 147-155, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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