June 2008

IZA DP No. 3541: The Role of Religion in Economic and Demographic Behavior in the United States: A Review of the Recent Literature

published in: Evelyn Lehrer: Religion, Economics, and Demography, London: Routledge, 2009

This paper presents a critical review and synthesis of recent research on the role of religion in economic and demographic behavior in the United States. Relationships reviewed include the effects of religion on investments in human capital, labor supply and wealth accumulation; union formation and dissolution; and fertility. The paper also comments on the growing literature on the implications of religious dissimilarity between the spouses; on two different, possibly countervailing ways in which religiosity may affect demographic and economic behavior; and on the importance of estimating models that allow for possible non-linearities in the effects of religiosity.