Religions, Fertility, and Growth in Southeast Asia

40 Pages Posted: 22 May 2020

See all articles by David de la Croix

David de la Croix

IRES, Universit Catholique de Louvain

Clara Delavallade

World Bank

Date Written: May 2018


We investigate the extent to which the pronatalism of religions impedes growth via the fertility/education channel. Using Southeast Asian censuses, we show empirically that being Catholic, Buddhist, or Muslim significantly raises fertility, especially for couples with intermediate to high education levels. With these estimates, we identify the parameters of a structural model. Catholicism is strongly pro‐child (increasing total spending on children), followed by Buddhism, whereas Islam is more pro‐birth (redirecting spending from quality to quantity). Pro‐child religions depress growth in its early stages by lowering savings and labor supply. In the later stages of growth, pro‐birth religions impede human capital accumulation.

Suggested Citation

de la Croix, David and Delavallade, Clara, Religions, Fertility, and Growth in Southeast Asia (May 2018). International Economic Review, Vol. 59, Issue 2, pp. 907-946, 2018, Available at SSRN: or

David De la Croix (Contact Author)

IRES, Universit Catholique de Louvain ( email )


Clara Delavallade

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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