Catholicism and Opposition to Gender Equality in Western Europe

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A number of scholars have argued that Catholicism is a barrier to gender equality in western Europe. The explanations for this relationship have usually focused on historical events and trends, which should result in a contextual effect, and on current church doctrine, which should affect individual level attitudes. In this paper, we test the importance of the individual and contextual effects of Catholicism. We find individual Catholics are less supportive of gender equality than non-Catholics. Once we control for individual religious affiliation, however, we find that those in predominantly Catholic countries are more egalitarian than those in predominantly Protestant ones. We conclude that this unusual result is due to the effects of minority religious status-Protestants in predominantly Catholic countries are more egalitarian than Protestants in Protestant countries, and Catholics in Protestant countries are less egalitarian than those in Catholic countries.


Catholic Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Political Science | Religion | Women's Studies