Religion and Female Education: Trans-Megabloc Effects
Seth W. Norton
Abstract: This paper examines the link between trans-megabloc Christian groups and female education—both the attainment levels and the education gender gap—using the Barro-Lee education dataset for a sample of 97 countries. The term trans-megabloc (Barrett, Kurian and Johnson, 2001) refers to groups that are defined by a set of beliefs/behaviors that transcend Christian denominations or the categories of Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians. The three trans-megabloc groups are evangelicals, great commission Christians, and Pentecostal/charismatics. Other control variables are urbanization, tropics, colonial heritage, female labor force participation, and young adult mortality. Results show that increases in the percentage of trans-megabloc Christians decrease the proportion of unschooled population and increase the proportion of women who attain higher education. The greater the proportion of trans-megabloc Christians in a country’s population, the smaller the education gender gap for both unschooled and higher educational attainment. In no case for trans-megabloc religious groupings do we find significant bias against female educational attainment in an absolute sense or relative to male educational attainment. When other religions are included in regression estimates, the favorable trans-megabloc effects are muted and less statistically significant. In contrast, the negative effects of other religions are robust and nearly uniform for both female educational attainment and the female/male gender gap.
JEL Codes: I24, I25, Jl6, O15, Zl2.
Keywords: female education, educational attainment, education gender gap, religion, Christianity, trans-megabloc.