Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools


You are here: Home / Coming Up / Rebecca Thornton, Baylor University

Rebecca Thornton, Baylor University

Long-Lasting Effects of Bible Translations on Literacy: Evidence from Sub-Sahara Africa
When May 01, 2023
from 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM
Where In-person, 1101 Morrill
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
Add event to calendar vCal

NOTE Change in time due to being an Economics focused seminar


About the Presentation

We study how access to mother-tongue Bible translations affects literacy in Africa. We combine datasets on the geographic locations of missions, Bible translation year by language, and precolonial characteristics of each ethnic group in Africa with the Demographic and Health Survey test for literacy. Comparing across age cohorts within ethno-language groups with a bible translation, we find that those exposed to primary school after a translation are 11 to 15 percentage points more likely to be literate. These results suggest that having access to the Biblical text in one’s mother tongue is a channel that explains the positive effect of missions on education found in previous studies.

About the Speaker

Rebecca Thornton

Rebecca Thornton is a Professor in the Department of Economics in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. Prior to that she was an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of Economics and Population Studies Center. Dr. Thornton’s research focuses on health, education, and the status of women in developing countries. Across these topics, her work addresses core issues within Economics, including the role of subjective beliefs in decision-making and how social networks influence behavior and beliefs. Dr. Thornton has been the principal or co-investigator on studies in India, Jordan, Malawi, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Uganda. These studies have involved collecting longitudinal data and conducting field experiments to understand important development issues such as HIV prevention, family planning uptake, enrollment in health insurance, effects of merit-based scholarships, and effective ways to improve early grade literacy.

Her work has received national and international recognition with papers published in top general interest and field journals. She has received funding from agencies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ESRC-DFID, the International Growth Centre, and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie). Dr. Thornton is an affiliate with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and BREAD (Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development) and received her Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government, a joint degree in Economics and Public Policy, from the J.F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Seminar Format

Location IN PERSON: 1101 Morrill Hall.  We are requesting advanced registration so that we can track capacity.  Please use this link to RSVP.

Location ONLINE VIA ZOOM: The Online via Zoom - Zoom Registration link . Upon registration you will receive an automatically generated email with the direct link for the seminar. 

COVID-19 Information

MPRC public events for Spring 2023 will be a mix of in person and online via Zoom.  For in person events, all event attendees must follow current protocols

« April 2024 »