Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 1129–1174 | Cite as

The evolution of secularization: cultural transmission, religion and fertility—theory, simulations and evidence

  • Ronen Bar-El
  • Teresa García-Muñoz
  • Shoshana Neuman
  • Yossef Tobol
Original Paper


This study presents an evolutionary process of secularization assuming that cultural/social/religious norms (in particular the ‘religious taste for children’) are transmitted from one generation to the next via two venues: (i) direct socialization—across generations, by parents; and (ii) oblique socialization—within generations, by the cultural environment. The paper integrates a theoretical model, simulations and an empirical estimation, that lead to the following main findings: (i) direct religious socialization efforts of one generation have a negative effect on secularization within the next generation; (ii) oblique socialization by the community has a parabolic effect on secularization; and (iii) the two types of socialization are complementary in ‘producing’ religiosity in the next generation.


Secularization Cultural transmission Fertility 

JEL Classification

J11 J13 Z10 



Our thanks to the two referees for their very helpful comments and suggestions. Shoshana did part of this study during her stay at IZA (summer 2009). She would like to thank the IZA Institute for its hospitality and excellent research facilities. In particular, Margard Ody, IZA’s Information Manager, for providing the numerous articles used for the literature review. Ronen and Yossi would like to thank Dr. Smadar Shatz for her help with Maple programming. Teresa García-Muñoz acknowledges financial support from the MCI (ECO2010-17049), Junta de Andalucía-Excelencia (P07.SEJ.02547) and the Instituto de la Mujer (2007 I+D+I/031).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronen Bar-El
    • 1
  • Teresa García-Muñoz
    • 2
  • Shoshana Neuman
    • 3
    • 5
    • 6
  • Yossef Tobol
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Economics and ManagementThe Open UniversityRaananaIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Quantitative MethodsUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsBar-Ilan UniversityRamat-GanIsrael
  4. 4.School of Industrial ManagementJerusalem College of Technology (JCT)JerusalemIsrael
  5. 5.CEPRLondonUK
  6. 6.IZABonnGermany

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