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The Academic Advantage of Devotion: Measuring Variation in the Value of Weekly Worship in Late Adolescence on Educational Attainment Using Propensity Score Matching

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This study measures the effect of regular worship attendance at age 17 on total years of schooling by age 25, using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. Expanding on previous work, this study estimates differences in the impact of worship attendance by race and family income status using propensity score matching. Individuals who frequently attend religious services complete .69 more years of schooling than similar individuals who do not frequently attend services. There are significantly greater returns to attendance for low‐income youth and no significant difference in returns by religious affiliation. These findings suggest that religious observance provides greater benefits for low‐income individuals or perhaps provides resources high‐income individuals have access to elsewhere. Moreover, this study extends previous work by examining a more recent and nationally representative sample of youth and by using methods that allow for greater causal inference.
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Keywords: academic attainment; adolescent worship attendance; heterogeneous effects; propensity score matching; social capital

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2015

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