National Identity and Religious Diversity

22 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2014

Date Written: August 2014


People are attracted to the idea of nationalism and a national identity. Existing literature proposes that social heterogeneity has a detrimental effect on national identity. We contribute to this literature by proposing that religious diversity, as another form of social heterogeneity, can better explain the formation of a national identity. We construct an index for national identity using information from the World Values Survey on peoples' affection for their nation. We then analyze the relationship between national identity and religious diversity. The results suggest that religious diversity is significantly and negatively related to national identity. We also find support for the previous finding that ethnic diversity does not seem to be related to national identity. Democratic institutions and mobility throughout the country are positively related to national identity if religious diversity is sufficiently high. Democratic institutions can overcome the negative effect of religious diversity on national identity.

Suggested Citation

Harttgen, Kenneth and Opfinger, Matthias, National Identity and Religious Diversity (August 2014). Kyklos, Vol. 67, Issue 3, pp. 346-367, 2014, Available at SSRN: or

Kenneth Harttgen (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006

Matthias Opfinger

University of Trier ( email )

15, Universitaetsring
Trier, 54286

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