Religion and Socioeconomic Attainment in the Context of Development

Tim B. Heaton, Brigham Young University
Spencer James
Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi, California State University, Fresno

Substantial research has documented the association between religion and socioeconomic attainment but much of the work is based in Western nations. As Christianity has expanded in developing nations and the confrontation between Islam and the West has received growing attention, the role religion plays in socioeconomic inequality continues to be a critical issue. We use the Ghanaian Demographic and Health Survey for 2003 to test the relationship between religious affiliation and socioeconomic attainment. Religious differences in socioeconomic outcomes are substantial in Ghana. Mainline Protestants have a significant advantage in education and wealth. Catholics and other Christians have intermediate values on these socioeconomic outcomes. Muslims and those with out attachment to formal religious groups have a significant disadvantage. Educational differences are particularly important because they account for some of the differences in wealth, and because education differences are evident in rates of school enrollment, signaling that inequality will persist.

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Presented in Session 80: Religion and Human Capital