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Religion, Denomination, and Education in The Netherlands: Cognitive and Noncognitive Outcomes After an Era of Secularization

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After 1850, The Netherlands developed into a strongly pillarized or denominational society. Starting in 1965, however, a process of secularization and depillarization emerged and the influence of the institutionalized denominations declined greatly. Today, there are indications that the process of secularization has reached its peak. Remarkably enough, such secularization and depillarization has had little influence on the educational system in The Netherlands. In this article, the relations between the religious affiliations of parents, the denominations of the schools attended by their children, and both the cognitive and noncognitive educational achievement of their children are examined. A representative sample of nearly 8,400 kindergarten students from 432 elementary schools is studied. The results show that the denomination of the school does not appear to affect educational results. Effects of the religious affiliation of the parents on the cognitive achievement but not the self-confidence or well-being of their children were found. When the socioethnic background of the students was taken into consideration, however, the observed effects disappeared.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Publication date: December 1, 2001


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