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Political Secularism and Muslim Integration in the West: Assessing the Effects of the French Headscarf Ban



In response to rising immigration flows and the fear of Islamic radicalization, several Western countries have enacted policies to restrict religious expression and emphasize secularism and Western values. Despite intense public debate, there is little systematic evidence on how such policies influence the behavior of the religious minorities they target. In this paper, we use rich quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate the effects of the 2004 French headscarf ban on the socioeconomic integration of French Muslim women. We find that the law reduces the secondary educational attainment of Muslim girls and affects their trajectory in the labor market and family composition in the long run. We provide evidence that the ban operates through increased perceptions of discrimination and that it strengthens both national and religious identities.


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Aala Abdelgadir, Department of Political Science, Stanford University,
Vasiliki Fouka, Department of Political Science, Stanford University,


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We thank Lisa Blaydes, Jean-Paul Carvalho, Lauren Davenport, Mathilde Emeriau, Jens Hainmueller, Stephane Wolton, and seminar participants at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford, the Stanford-Berkeley Political Economy workshop, the 2019 MPSA Annual Conference, and LMU Munich for useful comments and suggestions. Interviews were approved by Yale University’s Human Subjects Committee under IRB procotol 1005006869. Abdelgadir gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Science Foundation through a Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 1656518. Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Replication materials can be found on Dataverse at:



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Political Secularism and Muslim Integration in the West: Assessing the Effects of the French Headscarf Ban



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