In the United States, religious attendance rises sharply with education across individuals, but religious attendance declines sharply with education across denominations. This puzzle is explained if education both increases the returns to social connection and reduces the extent of religious belief, and if beliefs are closely linked to denominations. The positive effect of education on social connection is the result of both treatment and selection: schooling creates social skills and may increase people’s utility from engaging in other social activities such as church attendance. The negative effect of education on religious belief occurs because secular education emphasizes secular beliefs that are at odds with many traditional religious views.
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