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Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title ‘For the Love of the Republic’ Education, Secularism, and Empowerment
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL http://www.unicreditanduniversities.it/uploads/assets/GulesciMeyersson_UWIN_2014.pdf
We exploit a change in compulsory schooling laws in Turkey to estimate the causal effects of
education on religiosity and women’s socio-economic status. A new law, implemented in 1998 bound
individuals born after a specific date to 8 years of schooling while those born earlier could drop out
after 5 years. This allows the implementation of a Regression Discontinuity (RD) Design and the
estimation of meaningful causal estimates of schooling. Using the 2008 Turkish Demographic Health
Survey, we show that the reform resulted in a one-year increase in years of schooling among women on
average, although it did not increase schooling among men. Over a period of ten years, this education
increase resulted in women having lower religiosity, greater decision rights over marriage and fertility,
and higher household wealth. We find that a muted average RD effect on labor force participation
shrouds heterogenous effects depending on socioeconomic background; women from more socially
conservative backgrounds tend to observe no increase in labor force participation whereas women
from less conservative backgrounds experience a large increase. Education thus empowers women
across a wide spectrum of a Muslim society, yet faces limits in allowing women in the conservative
communities from realizing their full potential through the labor market.

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