Using recent data from the Canadian General Social Survey, I examine how religious belief and practice relate to labour earnings in Canada. Noting that religious landscape strongly varies across Canadian provinces, I explore whether these discrepancies are reflected in the association of wages and religiosity indicators, for men and women. Moreover, I identify two groups of individuals, one without any tie with religion and spirituality, and the other shaping their lives around them. I find that males belonging to the least religious group earn significantly below otherwise identical individuals in the high affiliation province of Newfoundland, while they enjoy a ceteris paribus wage premium in the low religiosity provinces of British Columbia and Québec. Females of the most religious group, on the other hand, are found at a disadvantage in the Canadian west, where affiliation with Conservative Protestantism is more prevalent.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Given the wide-spread use of cell-phones as a substitute for landlines among the younger cohorts, the GSS Guide acknowledges that the dataset is not a random sample. It recommends the use of the survey weights to mitigate this problem (Page 19): “The survey weights must be used when producing estimates or performing analyses in order to account as much as possible for the geographic over- and under representation and for the under- or over-representation of age and sex groups in the unweighted file.”
In the GSS-2011, for the first response category, the reported incidence of religious practice (prayer or attendance) is at least 52 times a year, while in the second category it falls to monthly practice, and from there to 3 times a year. This non-linearity is corrected using the approach proposed by Sander (2002). Sander (2002) maps the predetermined American GSS categories to a quantitative measure as follows: never equals 0; less than once a year equals 0.5; about once or twice a year equals 1; several times a year equals 3; about once a month equals 12; two to three times per month equals 30; nearly every week equals 40; and every week or more often equals 52. To create a comparable range of variation for the question on “importance of belief”, this question’s 4 response categories are rescaled so that this metric also varies between 0 and 52. For the question “importance of religion”, the re-scaling is as follows: Very important, 52; somewhat important, 34.7; not very important, 17.3; and 0 for not important at all.
The Québec Charter of Values (French: Charte de la laïcité or Charte des valeurs québécoises) was a bill introduced by the governing Parti Québécois in 2013, in the Canadian province of Québec. It intended to define the limits of religious reasonable accommodation in Québec. There was much controversy in Québec and elsewhere about the Charter, especially its proposed prohibition of public sector employees from wearing or displaying “conspicuous” religious symbols. According to the bill, relatively discreet items such as a finger ring, earring or small pendants bearing a religious symbol would be allowed, while more obvious items such as a kippah, turban, head scarf, and larger crosses and religious pendants would be prohibited. The bill died on the order paper as of March 5, 2014.
Argyle M, Beit-Hallahmi B (1975) The social psychology of religion. Routledge & Kegan Paul
Audretsch DB, Bönte W, Tamvada JP (2013) Religion, social class, and entrepreneurial choice. J Bus Ventur 28(6):774–789
Azzi C, Ehrenberg RG (1975) Household allocation of time and church attendance. J Polit Econ 83(1):27–56
Banack C (2014) Evangelical Christianity and political thought in Alberta. J Can Stud 48(2):70–99
Banack C (2016) God’s province: evangelical christianity, political thought, and conservatism in Alberta. McGill-Queen’s Press-MQUP
Beaman L, Magruder J (2012) Who gets the job referral? Evidence from a social networks experiment. Am Econ Rev 102(7):3574–3593
Bibby R (1990) La religion à la carte au Québec: une analyse de tendances. Sociol Soc 22(2):133–144
Bibby R (2007) Religion À La Carte in Quebec: a problem of demand, supply, or both?. Available at: http://www.reginaldbibby.com/images/Quebec_Paper_July07.pdf
Bibby RW (2011) Continuing the conversation on Canada: changing patterns of religious service attendance. J Sci Study Relig 50(4):831–837
Burchardi KB, Hassan TA (2013) The economic impact of social ties: evidence from German reunification. Q J Econ 128(3):1219–1271
Cimino R, Smith C (2014) Atheist awakening: secular activism and community in America. Oxford University Press, USA
Clark W, Schellenberg G (2006) Who is religious?. Canadian Social Trends, Statistics Canada-Catalogue No. 11(008), p 1–8
Cragun RT, Kosmin B, Keysar A, Hammer JH, Nielsen M (2012) On the receiving end: discrimination toward the non-religious in the United States. J Contemp Relig 27(1):105–127
Darnell A, Sherkat DE (1997) The impact of Protestant fundamentalism on educational attainment. Am Sociol Rev 62(2):306–315
De Vaus D, McAllister I (1987) Gender differences in religion: a test of the structural location theory. Am Sociol Rev 52(4):472–481
Deaton AS (2009) Aging, religion, and health. National Bureau of Economic Research (No. w15271). doi:10.3386/w15271
Diener E, Diener M, Diener C (1995) Factors predicting the subjective well-being of nations. J Pers Soc Psychol 69(5):851
Diener E, Oishi S, Lucas RE (2003) Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annu Rev Psychol 54(1):403–425
Diener E, Tay L, Myers DG (2011) The religion paradox: if religion makes people happy, why are so many dropping out? J Pers Soc Psychol 101(6):1278–1290
Dilmaghani M (2012) Religiosity, human capital return and earnings in Canada. Int J Soc Econ 39(1/2):55–80
Dilmaghani M (2015) Religiosity, gender, and wage: the differentiated impact of private prayer in Canada. Int J Soc Econ 42(10):888–905
Dilmaghani M, Dean J (2016) Religiosity and female labour market attainment in Canada: the Protestant exception. Int J Soc Econ 43(3):244–262
Eagle DE (2011) Changing patterns of attendance at religious services in Canada, 1986–2008. J Sci Study Relig 50(1):187–200
Edgell P, Gerteis J, Hartmann D (2006) Atheists as “other”: moral boundaries and cultural membership in American society. Am Sociol Rev 71(2):211–234
Ellison CG (1991) Religious involvement and subjective well-being. J Health Soc Behav 32(1):80–99
Fortin NM (2005) Gender role attitudes and the labour-market outcomes of women across OECD countries. Oxf Rev Econ Policy 21(3):416–438
Francis LJ (1997) The psychology of gender differences in religion: a review of empirical research. Religion 27(1):81–96
Gee EM, Veevers JE (1989) Religiously unaffiliated Canadians: sex, age, and regional variations. Soc Indic Res 21(6):611–627
Gervais WM, Shariff AF, Norenzayan A (2011) Do you believe in atheists? Distrust is central to anti-atheist prejudice. J Pers Soc Psychol 101(6):1189
Glass J, Nath LE (2006) Religious conservatism and women’s market behavior following marriage and childbirth. J Marriage Fam 68:611–629
Guenther KM, Mulligan K (2013) From the outside in: crossing boundaries to build collective identity in the new atheist movement. Soc Probl 60(4):457–475
Heckman, J. J., Stixrud, J., & Urzua, S. (2006). The effects of cognitive and noncognitive abilities on labor market outcomes and social behavior. National Bureau of Economic Research, No. w12006.
Heckman JJ, Borghans L, Golsteyn BH, Meijers H (2009) Gender differences in risk aversion and ambiguity aversion. J Eur Econ Assoc 7(2/3):649–658
Koenig GH, Larson DB (2001) Religion and mental health: evidence for an association. Int Rev Psychiatry 13(2):67–78
Lefebvre S, Beaman LG (eds) (2014) Religion in the public sphere: Canadian case studies. University of Toronto Press
Lehrer EL (2004) Religion as a determinant of economic and demographic behavior in the United States. Popul Dev Rev 30(4):707–726
Liu EY (2010) Are risk‐taking persons less religious? Risk preference, religious affiliation, and religious participation in Taiwan. J Sci Study Relig 49(1):172–178
Loewenthal KM, MacLeod AK, Cinnirella M (2002) Are women more religious than men? Gender differences in religious activity among different religious groups in the UK. Personal Individ Differ 32(1):133–139
McCleary RM, Barro RJ (2006) Religion and political economy in an international panel. J Sci Study Relig 45(2):149–175
Meng R, Sentence J (1984) Religion and the determination of earnings: further results. Can J Econ 17(3):481–488
Miller AS, Hoffmann JP (1995) Risk and religion: an explanation of gender differences in religiosity. J Sci Study Relig 34(1):63–75
Miller AS, Stark R (2002) Gender and religiousness: can socialization explanations be saved? Am J Sociol 107(6):1399–1423
Mincer J (1958) Investment in human capital and personal income distribution. J Polit Econ 66(4):281–302
Noussair CN, Trautmann ST, Van de Kuilen G, Vellekoop N (2013) Risk aversion and religion. J Risk Uncertain 47(2):165–183
O’Neill B, Gidengil E, Côté C, Young L (2015) Freedom of religion, women’s agency and banning the face veil: the role of feminist beliefs in shaping women’s opinion. Ethnic Racial Stud 38(11):1886–1901
Roth LM, Kroll JC (2007) Risky business: assessing risk preference explanations for gender differences in religiosity. Am Sociol Rev 72(2):205–220
Sander W (2002) Religion and human capital. Econ Lett 75(3):303–307
Schnabel L (2016) The gender pray gap: wage labor and the religiosity of high-earning women and men. Gender & Society 30(4):643–669
Sherkat DE (2000) “That they be keepers of the home”: the effect of conservative religion on early and late transitions into housewifery. Rev Relig Res 41(3):344–358
Sherkat DE, Ellison CG (1999) Recent developments and current controversies in the sociology of religion. Annu Rev Sociol 25:363–394
Suh EM, Diener ED, Updegraff JA (2008) From culture to priming conditions self-construal influences on life satisfaction judgments. J Cross-Cult Psychol 39(1):3–15
Tomes N (1983) Religion and the rate of return on human capital: evidence from Canada. Can J Econ 16(1):122–138
Tomes N (1984) The effects of religion and denomination on earnings and the returns to human capital. J Hum Resour 19(4):472–488
Tomes N (1985) Religion and the earnings function. Am Econ Rev 75(2):245–250
Vargas N, Loveland MT (2011) Befriending the “other”: patterns of social ties between the religious and non-religious. Sociol Perspect 54(4):713–731
Veevers JE, Gee EM (1986) Playing it safe: accident mortality and gender roles. Sociol Focus 19(4):349–360
Voas D (2009) The rise and fall of fuzzy fidelity in Europe. Eur Sociol Rev 25(2):155–168
Weber SR, Pargament KI, Kunik ME, Lomax JW II, Stanley MA (2012) Psychological distress among religious nonbelievers: a systematic review. J Relig Health 51(1):72–86
Wilkins-Laflamme S (2014) Toward religious polarization? Time effects on religious commitment in US, UK, and Canadian regions. Sociol Relig 75(2):284–308
Wuthnow R (2003) Overcoming status distinctions? Religious involvement, social class, race, and ethnicity in friendship patterns. Sociol Relig 64(4):423–442
This study was not funded.
Conflict of Interest
The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.
About this article
Cite this article
Dilmaghani, M. Religiosity and Labour Earnings in Canadian Provinces. J Labor Res 38, 82–99 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12122-016-9239-y