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  • This paper is an output of the International Growth Centre (IGC). Niaz Asadullah gratefully acknowledges additional support from the Leverhulme Trust UK. This study does not necessarily reflect the views of the World Bank or the governments they represent. We are grateful to Nigar Hashimzade and Mark Guzman for guidance and advice and Danny Cohen-Zada for an informed discussion of the issues surrounding the paper. We would like to thank Zihad Hassan who managed the survey work with utmost professional competence. Lastly, we would also like to thank seminar participants at Reading University, participants at the 2011 Association for the Study of Religion, Economics and Culture (ASREC) Conference, the 11th UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development (September 2011), and the IGC seminar in Dhaka (March 2012) for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the paper. The usual disclaimers apply.

  • ** [The author affiliation was modified after the first online publication on January 24, 2013].

Correspondence: M. Niaz Asadullah, School of Economics, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6UD, UK. Tel: +44-118-378-5062; Fax: +44-118 975 0236; Email:


This paper looks at the determinants of school selection in rural Bangladesh, focusing on the choice between registered Islamic and non-religious schools. Using a unique dataset on secondary school-age children from rural Bangladesh, we find that madrasah enrolment falls as household income increases. At the same time, more religious households, and those that live further away from a non-religious school are more likely to send their children to madrasahs. However, in contrast to the theory, we find that Islamic school demand does not respond to the average quality of schools in the locality.