Abstract

This paper investigates the effects of religion on a broad set of development outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa. We regroup these outcomes into three broad categories, namely, development process outcomes (growth, investment, conflict, and government quality), institutional outcomes (property rights and the rule of law) and social development outcomes (social and gender protection). Using two new measures of religion – religious fractionalization (RELFRAC) and religious polarization (RELPOL), alongside the traditional measure of religious diversity, our results suggest that broadly speaking, religion or religious diversity has no statistically significant impact on the institutional and social aspects of development in sub-Saharan Africa. However, our findings do suggest that religion has important effects on the development process through its effects on investment. The analysis suggests that African policy-makers need to pay attention to the changing religious dynamics and increasing religious polarization of African societies.

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