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This study analyses the effects of public policies on religiosity by focusing on the enrolment of pupils in French Catholic primary schools between 1878 and 1902. During this period, the government increased public spending and made school attendance free and mandatory until the age of 13. The empirical analysis presented here suggests that greater public spending had no substantial effect on the enrolment in Catholic schools. By contrast, mandatory schooling laws had a negative, but quantitatively limited, impact. The overall resilience of Catholic schooling is traced to the political divide created by the 1789 French Revolution.