Intergenerational Transmission of 'Religious Capital': Evidence from Spain

36 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2006

See all articles by Shoshana Neuman

Shoshana Neuman

Bar-Ilan University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Pablo Brañas-Garza

Universidad Loyola Andalucia

Date Written: June 2006


The paper examines intergenerational transmission of "religious capital" from parents to their offspring, within an economic framework of a production function of "religiosity" where parental inputs serve as factors of production. A sample of Catholic Spaniards who grew up in Catholic households is used for the empirical study. A rich unique data base is employed with data on several aspects of religiosity: two dimensions of the individual's religiosity - mass attendance (6 levels) and prayer (11 levels); information on the mother's and father's church attendance when the respondent was a child (9 levels) as well as the respondent's mass participation at the age of 12. The use of detailed religiosity measures (rather than one dichotomous variable, e.g., goes to church - yes/no; practicing Catholic - yes/no), facilitates a more sophisticated analysis with robust conclusions. A theoretical framework is followed by stylized facts on household composition. Then the effect of the parents' input on respondent's religiosity is examined - first using cross-tabulation and then using Ordered Logit regression. The inputs of the parents are proxied by the mother's and father's intensity of church attendance when the respondent was a child. The output (respondent's religiosity) is measured using detailed data on mass attendance and prayer. Exposure to mass services during childhood and socio-economic variables are also considered. All in all we find that parental religious inputs significantly affect individuals' religiosity BUT the route of intergenerational transmission is from mother to daughter and from father to son. Women are not affected by paternal religiosity and men are unaffected by maternal religiosity. Current religiosity is also affected by own exposure to mass services during childhood - own experience has a more pronounced effect on the private/intimate activity of prayer than on the social/public activity of church attendance. Current mass participation is more affected by parental than by own mass attendance during childhood.

Keywords: religious capital, Catholic, church attendance, prayer, intergenerational

JEL Classification: Z12, J12, J13, D13

Suggested Citation

Neuman, Shoshana and Brañas-Garza, Pablo, Intergenerational Transmission of 'Religious Capital': Evidence from Spain (June 2006). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2183, Available at SSRN:

Shoshana Neuman (Contact Author)

Bar-Ilan University - Department of Economics ( email )

Ramat-Gan, 52900
+972 3 531 8393 (Phone)
+972 3 535 3180 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Pablo Brañas-Garza

Universidad Loyola Andalucia ( email )

c/ Escritor Castilla Aguayo
Córdoba, 14004

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