Religious prohibition and sacrifice: evidence from the Amish restriction on high school education

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The Amish collective objection to high school education and refusal to comply with compulsory schooling laws can be interpreted with a religious-club-good framework. According to the religious-club interpretation, the Amish use the restriction on secular education as a religious prohibition and sacrifice to improve the welfare of sect members. I exploit the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Wisconsin vs. Yoder, which exempts Amish children from compulsory high school education, as a policy shock to test several key predictions of the religious-club explanations. The evidence suggests that the successful restriction on high school education helped the Amish sect exclude individuals with low religious participation, lower members' shadow cost of time, and grow the sect through higher fertility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-434
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Demographic Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Amish
  • compulsory schooling
  • fertility
  • prohibition
  • religious club
  • sacrifice

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