Driven by Institutions, Shaped by Culture: Human Capital and the Secularization of Marriage in Italy

42 Pages Posted: 8 May 2020

See all articles by David de la Croix

David de la Croix

IRES, Universit Catholique de Louvain

Fabio Mariani

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Marion Mercier

Paris School of Economics (PSE); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: May 2020

Abstract

We study the mechanisms behind the process of secularization and how they relate to human capital accumulation. We find a robust, positive correlation between human capital and secularization in marriage. Secularization is more responsive to education (i) in the presence of high levels of social capital and/or weak family ties, and (ii) following the legalization of divorce in 1971. To understand the mechanisms behind these results, we develop a theory of religiosity, education, and marriage choices, in which individuals who divorce face a relatively higher return to human capital compared to religious capital. Our theory suggests that a positive association between human capital and secularization can emerge across individuals (and localities) even in the absence of a direct effect of education on religiosity. Consistent with our empirical findings, the legalization of divorce plays a central role in unleashing the forces of secularization in marriage, and different patterns in the education--secularization nexus can be traced to different systems of incentives, as shaped by civic capital and family ties.

Keywords: Divorce, Human Capital, Marriage, Secularization

JEL Classification: I25, J12, N34, O4, Z12

Suggested Citation

de la Croix, David and Mariani, Fabio and Mercier, Marion, Driven by Institutions, Shaped by Culture: Human Capital and the Secularization of Marriage in Italy (May 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14696, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3594331

David De la Croix (Contact Author)

IRES, Universit Catholique de Louvain ( email )

Belgium

Fabio Mariani

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Marion Mercier

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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