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

88 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2013

See all articles by Resul Cesur

Resul Cesur

University of Connecticut, School of Business - Dept. of Healthcare Economics

Naci H. Mocan

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 2013

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.

Suggested Citation

Cesur, Resul and Mocan, Naci H., Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country (December 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w19769. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2372480

Resul Cesur (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut, School of Business - Dept. of Healthcare Economics ( email )

School of Business
2100 Hillside Road
Storrs, CT 06269
United States

Naci H. Mocan

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of economics
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6308
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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