CATHOLIC men earn higher wages, according to new research from Southern Cross University.
The study conducted by Southern Cross University senior lecturer Dr Michael Kortt from the Southern Cross Business School, in conjunction with Professor Brian Dollery from the University of New England, used data from the Household Income Labour Dynamics Australia (HILDA) Survey to examine the relationship between religious affiliation and wages for Australian men.
The research, published in the journal Applied Economics Letters, found that Catholic men benefited from a wage premium of 6.7% compared to men who reported a Protestant affiliation.
"Our results are very similar to findings from the United States, which also suggests that Catholic men enjoy a wage premium of between 6 and 7%," Dr Kortt said.
The highest reported religious affiliations in the study were Protestant (30.7%), Catholic (23.2%) and none (33.8%).
The study also offers possible explanations as to why Catholic men earn more in the labour market, according to Dr Kortt.
"Two possible reasons come to mind.
"First, being raised a Catholic may have a direct productivity pay-off as it may add to an individual's human capital by instilling characteristics, such as discipline, that are rewarded by the labour market," he said.
"Second, being raised a Catholic may act as a signal to potential employers that Catholic men have certain desirable traits such as trustworthiness."
Differences in the returns to education may also provide part of the explanation.
The results showed that each additional year of education for Catholic men was associated with a 6% increase in wages.
For Protestant men, an additional year of education was associated with a 9.8% increase in wages.
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