Religion and Socioeconomic Attainment in Ghana


Islam, Educational attainment, Socioeconomics, African Christianity, Protestantism, Religious identity, Muslims, Higher education, School enrollment


Substantial research has documented the association between religion and socioeconomic attainment in Western nations. As Christianity has expanded and been transformed in developing nations and the confrontation between Islam and the West has received growing attention, the role religion plays in socioeconomic inequality continues to be a critical issue. We use the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey for 2003 to test the relationship between religious affiliation and socioeconomic attainment. Religious differences in socioeconomic outcomes are substantial in Ghana. Mainline Protestants have a significant advantage in education and wealth. Catholics and other Christians have intermediate values on these socioeconomic outcomes. Muslims and those without attachment to formal religious groups have a significant disadvantage. Educational differences are particularly important because they account for some of the differences in wealth. Moreover, religious differences in rates of school enrollment signal that inequality will persist in the next generation.

Original Publication Citation

Tim B. Heaton, Spencer L. James, and Yaw Ohenba-Sakyi. 2009. “Religion and Socioeconomic Attainment in Ghana.” Review of Religious Research 51(1): 71-86

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Review of Religious Research




Family, Home, and Social Sciences

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor