The evolution of secularization: Cultural transmission, religion and fertility-theory, simulations and evidence

Ronen Bar-El, Teresa García-Muñoz, Shoshana Neuman, Yossef Tobol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study presents an evolutionary process of secularization assuming that cultural/social/religious norms (in particular the 'religious taste for children') are transmitted from one generation to the next via two venues: (i) direct socialization-across generations, by parents; and (ii) oblique socialization-within generations, by the cultural environment. The paper integrates a theoretical model, simulations and an empirical estimation, that lead to the following main findings: (i) direct religious socialization efforts of one generation have a negative effect on secularization within the next generation; (ii) oblique socialization by the community has a parabolic effect on secularization; and (iii) the two types of socialization are complementary in 'producing' religiosity in the next generation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1174
Number of pages46
JournalJournal of Population Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Our thanks to the two referees for their very helpful comments and suggestions. Shoshana did part of this study during her stay at IZA (summer 2009). She would like to thank the IZA Institute for its hospitality and excellent research facilities. In particular, Margard Ody, IZA’s Information Manager, for providing the numerous articles used for the literature review. Ronen and Yossi would like to thank Dr. Smadar Shatz for her help with Maple programming. Teresa García-Muñoz acknowledges financial support from the MCI (ECO2010-17049), Junta de Andalucía-Excelencia (P07.SEJ.02547) and the Instituto de la Mujer (2007 I+D+I/031).


  • Cultural transmission
  • Fertility
  • Secularization


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