UCLouvain Economics Seminar - Travis Lybbert, UC Davis

December 08, 2022

12:45 - 13:45


Doyen 22, Place des Doyens 1

Travis Lybbert

University of California Davis

will give a presentation on

Religiosity and Educational Attainment Among the Roma: Shedding an Oppositional Identity?


The Roma have faced poverty, discrimination and even enslavement and extermination since immigrating to Europe from India in the early 12thcentury. Persistent disparities between Roma and non-Roma throughout Europe have prompted recent integration initiatives. Drawing on a conceptual framework suggested by the literature on oppositional identity, aspirations, social capital, and the economics of religiosity, we explore the impacts of religious engagement on the integration of this marginalized population into broader society as captured by increased educational attainment. Using data from 12 Eastern European countries, we estimate the effect of religiosity on education with an instrumental variable (IV) approach that leverages exogenous variation in communist-era religious restrictions. We find that higher parental religiosity significantly increases child educational outcomes. Results indicate that religiosity also closes the gap between Roma respondents and their non-Roma neighbors for beliefs and other indicators. A placebo test among non-Roma households reveals no similar religiosity effects on educational outcomes of non-Roma children. Although more research is needed to identify specific mechanisms, these results suggest that religious engagement may soften oppositional identities in favor of alternative norms and aspirations. The role religious institutions may play in ultimately integrating the Roma and enhancing their future prospects merits further attention.

With Justin D. Kagin


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