The Religious Roots of Inequality in Africa

Across much of sub-Saharan Africa, Muslims have lower educational attainment than Christians, with fewer years of education, lower school attendance rates, and lower literacy rates. The Christian-Muslim education gap is one of the most important yet understudied development issues in Africa today.

  • What are the origins of this educational gap?
  • Under what conditions has it persisted, and where and why has it been overcome?

This project employs archival research, analysis of household surveys and census data, ethnography, and survey experiments to examine the origins and persistence of the Christian-Muslim education gap. The book project is comprised of three parts:

Part I introduces the variation in the Christian-Muslim gap in educational attainment across time and space, thus documenting and presenting evidence of an inequality that has been largely ignored by policymakers and scholars alike.

Part II examines the origins of Muslim disadvantage in education, investigating the relationship between pre-colonial and colonial institutions, and initial investments in secular education on the African continent.

Finally, Part III examines the persistence of Muslim disadvantage, examining in particular the relationship between Muslim majority status and educational attainment.