Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 1–44 | Cite as

Education, religion, and voter preference in a Muslim country

  • Resul Cesur
  • Naci Mocan
Original Paper


Using a unique survey of adults in Turkey, we find that an increase in educational attainment, due to an exogenous secular education reform, decreased women’s propensity to identify themselves as religious, lowered their tendency to wear a religious head cover (head scarf, turban, or burka) and increased the tendency for modernity. We also find that education has a negative impact on women’s propensity to vote for Islamic parties. The effect of female education on religiosity is driven by those who reside in urban areas. There is no statistically significant impact of education on male religiosity and tendency to vote for Islamic parties. Increased education does not influence the propensity to cast a vote in national elections for either men or women.


Education Religion Women Education reform Secularism 

JEL classification

I2 J0 Z12 



We are grateful to Bekir Ağırdır for providing us with the data and to Eren Pultar and Aydın Erdem for generously sharing their expertise of the survey. We thank Luiza Pogorelova and Bahadır Dursun for excellent research assistance, and Dani Rodrik, Michael Grossman, Leyla Mocan, Alper Dinçer, Murat Kirdar, Sezgin Polat, Ayça Akarçay Gürbüz, Etienne Lehmann, Nurhan Davutyan, Claudine Desrieux, Barış Kaymak, Damba Lkhagvasuren, Duha Altındağ, Meltem Daysal, Mircea Trandafir, Mickael Bech, Mette Ejrnaes, Giovanni Prarolo, and seminar participants at ASREC 2014 Annual Meeting, ERMES-Universite de Paris II, Kadir Has University, Concordia University, ERG-Sabanci University, University of Copenhagen, University of Southern Denmark, and LSU for helpful comments. Two anonymous referees provided valuable suggestions.

Compliance with ethical standards

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Louisiana State University, NBER and IZABaton RougeUSA

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