Religious Practice and Student Performance: Evidence from Ramadan Fasting

IZA Logo

IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 26.06.2018, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Erik Hornung (University of Cologne)


Do cultural norms associated with particular religious practices encourage or discourage human capital investment? Using two separate difference-in-differences frameworks, we investigate the impact of Ramadan fasting on educational outcomes exploiting arguably exogenous variation in annual fasting hours driven by the Islamic lunar calendar. Based on panel data from six waves of international TIMSS tests spanning 1995-2015, we find that student performance is positively associated with the number of fasting hours in Muslim majority countries, but not in other countries. Based on PISA panel data from eight main European immigration countries, we further show that performance gaps between students with and without Muslim majority country origin are lower when fasting is more intense. Additional evidence indicates that performance increases are limited to schools with a higher share of Muslims, suggesting that strict religious practices enhance beneficial group formation processes.

For more information, please contact