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

Daniel M. Hungerman

University of Notre Dame

April 2011

NBER Working Paper No. w16973

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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Date posted: April 25, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Hungerman, Daniel M., The Effect of Education on Religion: Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws (April 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w16973. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1820085

Contact Information

Daniel M. Hungerman (Contact Author)
University of Notre Dame ( email )
361 Mendoza College of Business
Notre Dame, IN New South Wales 46556-5646
United States
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