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Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country

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  • Resul Cesur
  • Naci H. Mocan

Abstract

Turkey, which is a predominantly Muslim country, enacted an education law in 1997 which increased the compulsory secular education from five to eight years. We employ a unique nation-wide survey of adults in 2012 to investigate the impact of education on religiosity, lifestyles and political preferences by using exposure to the law as an instrument for schooling. The data set includes information about the extent of religiosity, lifestyle choices (e.g. modern, conservative, religious), ethnic background (e.g. Kurd, Turk, Arab) and the religious sect of the respondents (Sunni, Alevite Shii'te, etc.) The results show that the reform had a significant impact on middle school completion for both men and women, with stronger effects on women. An increase in education, generated by exposure to the law, decreases women's propensity to identify themselves as religious. Education also lowers women's tendency to wear a religious head cover (head scarf, religious turban or burka) and it increases their propensity to have a modern lifestyle. Education reduces women's propensity to cast a vote for Islamic parties, but it has no impact on the propensity to vote. Education has no statistically significant impact on men's religiosity or their tendency to vote for Islamic parties. The results are robust to controlling for indicators of individuals' economic well-being as well as variations in empirical specification of the treatment by the law. Using a smaller version of the survey, conducted in 2008, we perform a variety of tests, which demonstrate that the results are not due to a cohort effect. Finally, we show that the effect of education on religiosity and voting preference is not working through migration, residential location or labor force participation.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19769
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    Cited by:

    1. Murat G. Kýrdar & Meltem Dayýoglu Tayfur & Ýsmet Koç, 2010. "The Effect of Compulsory Schooling Laws on Teenage Marriage and Births in Turkey," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1035, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    2. Bilge Erten & Luis Pinar Keskin, 2017. "Breaking the Cycle? Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Violence," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series dp-296, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    3. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    4. Bahadır Dursun & Resul Cesur, 2016. "Transforming lives: the impact of compulsory schooling on hope and happiness," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(3), pages 911-956, July.
    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. Ali Akarca & Aysit Tansel, 2015. "Impact of internal migration on political participation in Turkey," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-14, December.
    9. Murat G. Kýrdar & Meltem Dayýoðlu & Ýsmet Koç, 2016. "The Effects of Compulsory Schooling Laws on Teenage Marriage and Births in Turkey," Working Papers 2016/01, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    10. Güneş Pınar Mine, 2016. "The Impact of Female Education on Teenage Fertility: Evidence from Turkey," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 259-288, January.
    11. Huzeyfe Torun & Semih Tumen, 2017. "The empirical content of season-of-birth effects: An investigation with Turkish data," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 37(57), pages 1825-1860, December.
    12. 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.
    13. Altindag, Onur & Kaushal, Neeraj, 2017. "Do Refugees Impact Voting Behavior in the Host Country? Evidence from Syrian Refugee Inflows in Turkey," IZA Discussion Papers 10849, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. 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).
    15. 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.
    16. Resul Cesur & Bahadir Dursun & Naci Mocan, 2014. "The Impact of Education on Health and Health Behavior in a Middle-Income, Low-Education Country," NBER Working Papers 20764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Leyla Mocan, 2014. "The Impact of Education on Wages: Analysis of an Education Reform in Turkey," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1424, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    18. Ayca Akarcay-Gurbuz & Sezgin Polat, 2015. "The rocky road to post-compulsory education in Turkey: Intergenerational educational mobility," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1510, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy

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