The Growth of Protestantism in Brazil and Its Impact on Male Earnings, 1970-2000. Academic Article uri icon


  • Protestantism has expanded rapidly in Brazil in recent decades. The question we tackle in this paper is whether Protestantism has had a positive influence on male earnings in this setting, either through its influence on health and productivity, by way of social networks or employer favor and reduced discrimination, or through other mechanisms. We tackle the problem of the selectivity of religious conversion and affiliation using microdata from the Brazilian censuses of 1970, 1980, 1991, and 2000, and analyzing the association between Protestantism and earnings at the group rather than the individual level. Our results show a strong association between the proportion of Protestants in a region, and the earnings of men in one educational group: those with less than five years of education. Upon introducing race into our models, we found that the association between religion and the earnings of less educated men is concentrated in regions in which there is a substantial non-white population. The relationships we have uncovered contribute to the literature on racial inequality and discrimination in Brazil, which to date has given little space to the role of religion in moderating the pernicious effect of race on economic outcomes in Brazil. The substantial association we found between religion and earnings contrasts with much of the research that has been carried out on the influence of religion on earnings in the United States.

altmetric score

  • 13.692

author list (cited authors)

  • Potter, J. E., Amaral, E., & Woodberry, R. D.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • July 2014