The expansion of private-school vouchers in Milwaukee prevented Catholic parishes from closing and merging, but also led to a significant decline in participating churches' donations and religious activity, a new study says.continue at JS
The study suggests the Milwaukee voucher program since 1999 led to a decline in non-school Catholic church revenue by $60 million, at least amid the more than 70 Milwaukee Archdiocese parishes studied by the authors. The findings raise new questions about the impact that expanding private-school voucher programs could have on religious life in America, at a time when voucher programs are expanding and the number of people claiming religious affiliation is declining.
"It's a complicated story, because vouchers are good in terms of keeping parishes open, but they seem to be changing what happens within the parishes," said Daniel Hungerman, an associate professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame who led the study released Monday. The National Bureau of Economic Research is circulating it as a working paper.
Go read the rest. Important food for thought.
Is this really a voucher problem though, and not just the general attrition of Catholicism in the US?