Secularization and Development

: In the Context of Africa

  • Sisay Tolla Whakeshum

Student thesis: Master typesSpecialised Master in International and Development Economics


Despite intense academic debates, empirical evidences on the interplay between secularization and development in the case of Africa are too scant. In this paper, using individual level data from Afrobarometer survey of 2016, cross-section estimations integrated with secularization hypotheses are presented to extend the inquiry. Country fixed-effect logistic regressions estimate the effects of fundamentals of development on secularization (that is measured by rare-attendance and non-membership). The cross-section analysis reveals a negative association between education and secularization. This result contradicts the conventional view that education is a leading source of the seismic social phenomenon of secularization. Estimation outcomes due to urbanization are different between rare-attendance and non-membership measures of secularization. Whereas urbanization is found to have a positive effect on non-membership type of secularization, this effect is negative for rare-attendance form of secularization. In contrast to education and urbanization, change in measures of income (the level of economic condition) is not significantly associated to changes in attendance of religious institutions. However, association between secularization and income appears when secularization is measured in terms of non-membership that tends to decrease with higher income. Generally, the findings cast doubt on traditional conception of secularization hypothesis.
Date of Award31 May 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Namur
SupervisorFabio Mariani (Supervisor) & Stephanie Weynants (Co-Supervisor)


  • secularization
  • education
  • income
  • urbanization
  • Africa

Cite this

Secularization and Development: In the Context of Africa
Whakeshum, S. T. (Author). 31 May 2019

Student thesis: Master typesSpecialised Master in International and Development Economics