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Religious Schools, Social Values and Economic Attitudes: Evidence from Bangladesh

  • Mohammad Niaz Asadullah (Reading University) and Nazmul Chaudhury (World Bank)

This paper examines the social impact of a madrasa (Islamic religious school) reform program in Bangladesh. The key features of the reform are change of the curriculum and introduction of female teachers. We assess whether the reform is making any contribution in improving social cohesion in rural areas. We use new data on teachers and female graduates from rural Bangladesh and explore how attitudes toward desired fertility, working mothers, higher education for girls vis-à-vis boys, and various political regimes vary across secondary schools and modernised madrasas. We find some evidence of attitudinal gaps by school type. Modernised religious education is associated with attitudes that are conducive to democracy. On the other hand, when compared to their secular schooled peers, madrasa graduates have perverse attitude on matters such as working mothers, desired fertility and higher education for girls. We also find that young people's attitudes are interlinked with that of their teachers. Exposure to female and younger teachers leads to more favourable attitudes among graduates. These estimated effects are robust to conditioning on a rich set of individual, family and school traits. We conclude by discussing other social and economic implications of these findings.

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Paper provided by Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford in its series QEH Working Papers with number qehwps139.

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Handle: RePEc:qeh:qehwps:qehwps139
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  1. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2003. "People's opium? Religion and economic attitudes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 225-282, January.
  2. Mohammad Niaz Asadullah (SKOPE, Department of Economics), . "Returns to Education in Bangladesh," QEH Working Papers qehwps130, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  3. Brock, William A & Durlauf, Steven N, 2001. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 235-60, April.
  4. Asadullah, M. Niaz, 2009. "Returns to private and public education in Bangladesh and Pakistan: A comparative analysis," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 77-86, January.
  5. Mohammad Niaz Asadullah (Reading University), Nazmul Chaudhury (World Bank) and Amit Dar (World Bank), . "Student Achievement Conditioned Upon School Selection: Religious and Secular Secondary School Quality in Bangladesh," QEH Working Papers qehwps140, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  6. Nistha Sinha, 2004. "Testing for a Supply Constraint to Fertility: Interpreting the Up to God Response to the Survey Question on Desired Family Size," Working Papers 889, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  7. Thomas S. Dee, 2005. "Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 11660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  9. Thomas Dee, 2005. "The Effects of Catholic Schooling on Civic Participation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 12(5), pages 605-625, September.
  10. Mohammad Niaz Asadullah & Nazmul Chaudhury, 2009. "Holy alliances: public subsidies, Islamic high schools, and female schooling in Bangladesh," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 377-394.
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