Teen Childbearing and Community Religiosity
This paper shows that communities with larger fractions of Catholics and Conservative Protestants have lower rates of teen childbearing ceteris paribus. The pattern of results does not appear to result from spurious correlation with unobservables but rather can be explained by a modified version of Akerlof’s conformity model. This research suggests that community variables that may affect individuals extend beyond the standard measures of neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics. It provides indirect evidence in favor of policy interventions that explicitly seek to alter attitudes and norms rather than relying solely on providing information or structuring financial incentives to change behavior.
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