World Religions and Human Capital Investment: The Case of Primary Education

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Using data on 150 countries, this article studies if and how the largest world religions have affected the extent of primary education at the national level over the period 1972–2010. Although primary education has been compulsory in most countries for at least several decades, the regression results suggest that these religions have indeed still been able to exert an influence on this type of education. Specifically, whereas Protestantism and Catholicism had a positive effect on the male primary enrolment rate, Hinduism and Buddhism had a negative effect on the female primary enrolment rate. Islam had a negative effect on both. While the magnitude of the estimated effects is small for boys, it is more substantial for girls, particularly the negative effect of Islam. The estimates are robust to endogeneity of all five religion adherence variables. They are also robust to numerous controls and variations in specification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-123
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Interdisciplinary Economics
Issue number2
Early online date9 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • education
  • schooling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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