Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 563–598 | Cite as

The determinants of religiosity among immigrants and the native born in Europe

  • Mariya Aleksynska
  • Barry R. Chiswick


This paper examines differences in religious behaviors of the native born and immigrants in European countries, measured by self-reported religiosity, frequency of praying, and frequency of church attendance. Using the European Social Survey, we first show that, on average, the religiosity of immigrants is greater than that of the native born and is greater than that of the stayers in the European origins, even among those who report they have no religious affiliation. Hypotheses are tested that can explain these observations. Differences in individual characteristics, such as age, education, income, marital status, and notably religious denominations, partly account for the overall differences. Religiosity of migrants declines with duration in the destination, approaching the levels of both the native born in destination countries and of the stayers in European origin countries. Both origin and destination country characteristics affect religiosity, such as economic development, religious pluralism, religious freedom, and societal attitudes towards religion, suggesting that both economic and culture persistence and adaptation take place.


Economics of religion Religiosity Immigrants Secularization Culture Integration 

JEL Classification

F22 N3 Z12 


  1. Alesina, A., Devleeschauwer, A., Easterly, W., Kurlat, S., & Wacziarg, R. (2003). Fractionalization. Journal of Economic Growth, 8, 155–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alesina, A., & La Ferrara, E. (2000). Participation in heterogeneous communities. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(3), 847–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Algan, Y., Dustmann, Ch., Glitz, A., & Manning, A. (2010). The economic situation of first and second-generation immigrants in France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Economic Journal, 120(542), F4–F30. 02.Google Scholar
  4. ASDC. (2002). Lessons learned about civic participation among immigrants. Technical Report. Washington Area Partnership for Immigrants Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
  5. Association of Religious Data Archives. International Religious Freedom Data, 2005. Available at: Accessed October 2009.
  6. Azzi, C., & Ehrenberg, R. G. (1975). Household allocation of time and church attendance. Journal of Political Economy, 83, 27–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barro, R. J., & McCleary R. M. (2003a). International Determinants of Religiosity. NBER Working Paper 10147.Google Scholar
  8. Barro, R. J., & McCleary, R. M. (2003). Religion and economic growth across countries. American Sociological Review, LXVIII, 760–781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barro, R. J., & McCleary, R. M. (2005). Which countries have state religions? The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 120(4), 1331–1370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bénabou, R., & Tirole, J. (2006). Belief in a just world and redistributive politics. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 121, 699–746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bisin, A., Patacchini, E., Verdier, T., & Zenou, Y. (2008). Are Muslim immigrants different in terms of cultural integration? Journal of the European Economic Association, 6, 445–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bisin, A., Patacchini, E., Verdier, T., & Zenou, Y. (2011). Ethnic identity and labor market outcomes of immigrants in Europe. Economic Policy, 26(65), 57–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bisin, A., & Verdier, T. (2000). Beyond the melting pot: Cultural transmission, marriage and the evolution of ethnic and religious traits. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, 955–988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. (Borjas argues that there is no assimilation only cohort quality changes).Google Scholar
  15. Borjas, G. J., & Hilton, L. (1996). Immigration and the welfare state: Immigrant participation in means-tested entitlement programs. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 111, 575–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chaves, M., & Cann, D. E. (1992). Regulation, pluralism, and religious market structure. Rationality and Society, 4, 272–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chaves, M., & Gorski, P. S. (2001). Religious pluralism and religious participation. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 261–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chiswick, B. (1978). The effect of Americanisation on the earnings of foreign-born men. Journal of Political Economy, 86, 921–987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chiswick, C. U. (2003). Immigrant religious adjustment: An economic approach to Jewish migrations. IZA Discussion Paper 863 (check title of paper).Google Scholar
  20. Chiswick, B., & Huang, J. (2008). The earnings of American Jewish men: Human capital, Denomination, and religiosity. Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion, 47(4), 694–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chiswick, B., & Mirtcheva, D. (2012). Religion and child health. The Journal of Economics and Family Issues, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  22. Connor, P. (2010). Balm for the soul: Immigrant religion and emotional well-being. International Migration, 50(2), 130–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Constant, A., Gataullina, L., Zimmermann, K. F., & Zimmermann, L. (2006). Clash of cultures: Muslims and Christians in the Ethnosizing process. IZA Discussion Paper 2350. Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn.Google Scholar
  24. Cyrus, N., Gropas, R., & Kosic, A. (2006). Opportunity structures for immigrants’ active civic participation in the European Union: Sharing comparative observations. POLITIS Working paper 2. Oldenburg: University of Oldenburg.Google Scholar
  25. Davie, G. (2000). Religion in modern Europe: A memory mutates. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Dustmann, C. (1996). The social assimilation of immigrants. Journal of Population Economics, 9, 37–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ebaugh, H. L., & Chafetz, J. S. (2000). Religion and the new immigrants. Oxford, UK: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  28. Ekelund, R. B., Hébert, R. F., & Tolliso, R. D. (2006). The marketplace of christianity. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  29. Fernandez, R., & Fogli, A. (2009). Culture: An empirical investigation of beliefs, work, and fertility. American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 1, 146–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Finke, R. (1998). Religious choice and competition. American Sociological Review, 63, 761–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gallup and Crabtree S. (2010). Religiosity highest in world’s poorest nations. Available online: Accessed January 2010.
  32. Gaskins, B., Golder, M., & Siegel, D. A. (2009). Religiosity, societal development, and political attitudes. memo.Google Scholar
  33. Greeley, A. (1989). Religious change in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Green, D. (1999). Immigrant occupational attainment: Assimilation and mobility over time. Journal of Labour Economics, 17, 49–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Grim, B. J., & Finke, R. (2006). International religion indexes: Government regulation, government favoritism, and social regulation of religion. Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, 2, 1–40.Google Scholar
  36. Gruber, J., & Hungerman, D. (2008). The church versus the mall: What happens when religion faces increased secular competition? The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 123(2), 831–862.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Guiso, L., Sapienza, P., & Zingales, L. (2003). People’s opium? Religion and economic attitudes. Journal of Monetary Economics, 50, 225–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hillman, A. L. (2010). Expressive behavior in economics and politics. European Journal of Political Economy, 26, 403–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Iannaccone, L. R. (1990). Religious practice: A human capital approach. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 29, 297–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Iannaccone, L. R. (1991). The consequences of religious market structure: Adam Smith and the economics of religion. Rationality and Society, 3, 156–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Iannaccone, L. R. (1998). Introduction to the economics of religion. Journal of Economic Literature, 36, 1465–1496.Google Scholar
  42. Iannaccone, L. R., Finke, R., & Stark, R. (1997). Deregulating religion: The economics of church and state. Economic Inquiry, 35, 350–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jowell, R., & the Central Co-ordinating Team. (2009). European Social Survey: Technical Report. London: Centre for Comparative Social Surveys. City University. Available at:
  44. Keysar, A., & Kosmin, B. (1995). The impact of religious identification on differences in educational attainment among American women in 1990. Journal of Scientific Study of Religion, 34(1), 49–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lehrer, E. L. (1999). Religion as a determinant of educational attainment: An economic perspective. Social Science Research, 28, 358–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lehrer, E. L. (2004). Religiosity as a determinant of educational attainment: The case of conservative protestant women in the United States. Review of Economics of the Household, 2(2), 203–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lehrer, E. L. (2010). Religion, human capital investments and the family in the United States. In McCleary, R. (Ed.), The oxford handbook of the economics of religion.Google Scholar
  48. Manning, A., & Roy, S. (2010). Culture clash or culture club? National identity in Britain. Economic Journal, 120, F72–F100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Martin, D. (1978). A general theory of secularization. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  50. Mayda, A. M. (2010). International migration: A panel data analysis of the determinants of bilateral flows. Journal of Population Economics, 23, 1249–1274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. McCleary, R., & Barro, R. J. (2006). Religion and economy. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(2), 49–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mukhopadhyay, S. (2011). Religion, religiosity and educational attainment of immigrants to the USA. Review of Economics of the Household, 9(4), 539–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Munshi, K. (2003). Networks in the modern economy: Mexican migrants in the U.S. labor market. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118, 549–597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Regnerus, M. D. (2003). Religion and positive adolescent outcomes: A review of research and theory. Review of Religious Research, 44, 394–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Scheve, K., & Stasavage, D. (2006). Religion and preferences for social insurance. Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 1, 255–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Stark, R., & Finke, R. (2000). Acts of faith: Explaining the human side of religion. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  57. Stark, R., Iannaccone, L., & Finke, R. (1996). Religion, science, and rationality. The American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, 86(2), 433–437.Google Scholar
  58. Sullins, D. (2006). Gender and religion: Deconstructing universality, constructing complexity. American Journal of Sociology, 112, 838–880.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Verweij, J., Ester, P., & Nauta, R. (1997). Secularization as an economic and cultural phenomenon: A cross-national analysis. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 36, 309–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Waite, L., & Lehrer, E. L. (2003). The benefits from marriage and religion in the United States: A comparative analysis. Population and Development Review, 29(2), 255–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Weber, M. 1993 [1922]. Sociology of religion. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  62. World Bank. (2006). World Bank Development Indicators Database. Available at: Accessed March 2010.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Labor OrganizationGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.IZA, Institute for the Study of LaborBonnGermany

Personalised recommendations