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Education and Religion

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (PST)

Marriott Marquis, Balboa
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Laurence R. Iannaccone, Chapman University

Randomizing Religion: The Impact of Protestant Evangelism on Economic Outcomes

Gharad T. Bryan
,
London School of Economics
James J. Choi
,
Yale University
Dean Karlan
,
Northwestern University

Abstract

We study the causal impact of religiosity through a randomized evaluation of an evangelical Protestant Christian values and theology education program. We analyze outcomes for 6,276 ultra-poor Filipino households six months and 30 months after the program ended. At six months, we find increases in religiosity and income, no statistically significant changes in total labor supply, consumption, food security, or life satisfaction, and a decrease in perceived relative economic status. Exploratory analysis suggests that the income treatment effect may operate through increasing grit. These effects fade away at 30 months. We conclude that this church-based program may represent a method of increasing non-cognitive skills and reducing poverty in the short run among adults in developing countries, but more work is required to understand whether the effects can persist and if not, why not.

Can Schools Change Religious Attitudes? Evidence from German State Reforms of Compulsory Religious Education

Benjamin Arold
,
Ifo Institute
Ludger Woessmann
,
Ifo Institute
Larissa Zierow
,
Ifo Institute

Abstract

The question whether churches should have a place in public schools to teach religious education has been the subject of fierce disputes in many countries throughout history. Yet little is known about whether compulsory religious education in fact affects people’s religiosity in the long run. We argue that the different timing of reforms that abandoned compulsory religious education across German states provides plausibly exogenous variation in individuals’ exposure to compulsory religious education. Our event-study approach shows that, conditional on state and birth-year fixed effects, the termination of compulsory religious education led to a significant reduction in reported religiosity, personal prayer, and church membership of affected students in adulthood. Beyond religious attitudes, the reform also affected family and economic outcomes: It reduced males’ conservative attitudes towards gender roles and marriage and the number of children and increased female labor-force participation and earnings. Supporting our identifying assumption, the reform is not related to a series of placebo outcomes or to non-religious school outcomes.

Human Capital and the Persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany

Sascha O. Becker
,
University of Warwick
Volker Lindenthal
,
University of Munich
Sharun Mukand
,
University of Warwick
Fabian Waldinger
,
University of Munich

Abstract

The Nazi period is a transformational period in German history. When Hitler took power in 1933, Jews were expelled from public sector jobs. Their outside options differed widely, as result of the level and specificity of their human capital and depending on their network links with other Jews and non-Jews. Using detailed biographical information, we examine several important margins: first, the impact of expulsion and persecution on the extensive margin (who emigrated and who ended up staying behind by the outbreak of hostilities in 1939); second, two types of intensive margin: the timing of emigration and the destination of emigration.
Discussant(s)
Abigail Payne
,
University of Melbourne
Samuel Bazzi
,
Boston University
Jared Rubin
,
Chapman University
Susanna Loeb
,
Brown University
JEL Classifications
  • I2 - Education and Research Institutions
  • Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology