Education and Religion

53 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2001 Last revised: 20 Oct 2010

See all articles by Bruce Sacerdote

Bruce Sacerdote

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2001

Abstract

In the United States, religious attendance rises sharply with education across individuals, but religious attendance declines sharply with education across denominations. This puzzle is explained if education both increases the returns to social connection and reduces the extent of religious belief. The positive effect of education on sociability explains the positive education-religion relationship. The negative effect of education on religious belief causes more educated individuals to sort into less fervent religions, which explains the negative relationship between education and religion across denominations. Cross-country differences in the impact of education on religious belief can explain the large cross-country variation in the education-religion connection. These cross-country differences in the education-belief relationship can be explained by political factors (such as communism) which lead some countries to use state-controlled education to discredit religion.

Suggested Citation

Sacerdote, Bruce and Glaeser, Edward L., Education and Religion (January 2001). NBER Working Paper No. w8080. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=256087

Bruce Sacerdote (Contact Author)

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Edward L. Glaeser

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