In the past decade, governments have used vouchers and tax credits to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into private education, with much of this funding going to religiously-affiliated schools. While a vast body of work explores school choice’s educational effects, this project would explore whether these policies are transformative in settings beyond the classroom. In particular, these policies could impact the spiritual, moral, and social fabric of communities by creating a financial windfall for religious organizations affiliated with private schools.

This project will thus address the question: How does school choice affect religion?

To answer this question, we will use regression analysis to estimate the effect of school choice policies on measures of (a) religious school enrollment (b) religious school finances and (c) religious participation. The focus will be on the US, although we note that school choice is not a US-specific phenomenon. Our project will be quantitative and highly rigorous.

The main output will be a series of academic papers published in well-regarded journals. This project will likely produce two or three distinct publications; quality will be valued over quantity. A second output will be the construction of several datasets on school choice programs and religious activity; we will use a number of data sources that have not been studied by researchers before. We believe this project will be seminal for understanding both school choice and the future of religiosity & religious finances.