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Looking Within or Reaching Out?: The Effects of Religion on Private School Enrollments in an Era of School Choice

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2017

Mikael L. Pelz*
Affiliation:
Calvin College
Kevin R. den Dulk*
Affiliation:
Calvin College
*
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Mikael L. Pelz, Department of Political Science, Calvin College, 3201 Burton Ave. S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49546. E-mail: mlp23@calvin.edu; or to: Kevin R. den Dulk, Department of Political Science, Calvin College, 3201 Burton Ave. S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49546. E-mail: krd33@calvin.edu.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Mikael L. Pelz, Department of Political Science, Calvin College, 3201 Burton Ave. S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49546. E-mail: mlp23@calvin.edu; or to: Kevin R. den Dulk, Department of Political Science, Calvin College, 3201 Burton Ave. S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49546. E-mail: krd33@calvin.edu.

Abstract

The proliferation of school choice policies has expanded schooling options for parents. While this trend coincides with a decline in private school enrollment, it is unclear how these policies affect enrollment among various religious traditions and religiosity. We study the impact of religion and school choice initiatives on the decision to enroll in different types of private schools in this new era. We evaluate two concurrent theories on the role of religion in the enrollment trends of private schools. Religious school enrollment may be motivated by (1) the desire to transmit a religious social identity, or (2) the secular goods associated with religious-based education. Using state-level data, we test these two explanations by estimating fixed effects regression models predicting private school market shares between 1993–2011 among different religious groups. We find support for both theories, particularly for a robust private school market aided by school choice policies.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association 2017 

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