NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of Education on Religion: Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws

Daniel M. Hungerman

NBER Working Paper No. 16973
Issued in April 2011
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED   PE

For over a century, social scientists have debated how educational attainment impacts religious belief. In this paper, I use Canadian compulsory schooling laws to identify the relationship between completed schooling and later religiosity. I find that higher levels of education lead to lower levels of religious participation later in life. An additional year of education leads to a 4-percentage-point decline in the likelihood that an individual identifies with any religious tradition; the estimates suggest that increases in schooling can explain most of the large rise in non-affiliation in Canada in recent decades.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16973

The Effect of Education on Religion: Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws,” forthcoming at the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization citation courtesy of

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