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The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands

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  • Davide Cantoni

Abstract

Many theories, most famously Max Webers essay on the Protestant ethic, have hypothesized that Protestantism should have favored economic development. With their considerable religious heterogeneity and stability of denominational affiliations until the 19th century, the German Lands of the Holy Roman Empire present an ideal testing ground for this hypothesis. Using population figures in a dataset comprising 272 cities in the years 13001900, I find no effects of Protestantism on economic growth. The finding is robust to the inclusion of a variety of controls, and does not appear to depend on data selection or small sample size. In addition, Protestantism has no effect when interacted with other likely determinants of economic development. I also analyze the endogeneity of religious choice; instrumental variables estimates of the effects of Protestantism are similar to the OLS results.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 524.

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Date of creation: Dec 2010
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:524

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Keywords: Protestantism; Culture; Economic Growth; Historical Development; Germany;

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  1. Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Printing and Protestants: reforming the economics of the Reformation," MPRA Paper 31267, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Murat Iyigun, 2008. "Luther and Suleyman," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1465-1494, November.
  3. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2007. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," CESifo Working Paper Series 1987, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Acemoglu, Daron & Cantoni, Davide & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A, 2009. "The Consequences of Radical Reform: The French Revolution," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 7245, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2005. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 922-948, December.
  6. Grier, Robin, 1997. "The Effect of Religion on Economic Development: A Cross National Study of Sixty-three Former Colonies," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 47-62.
  7. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2010. "The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence from Contemporary Germany," MPRA Paper 26444, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Oded_Galor, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth:Unified Growth Theory," Working Papers 2004-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  9. Sascha O. Becker & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann, 2011. "Education and Catch-Up in the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 92-126, July.
  10. Robert B. Ekelund, Jr. & Robert F. Hebert & Robert D. Tollison, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of the Protestant Reformation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 646-671, June.
  11. BLUM, Ulrich & DUDLEY, Leonard, 2001. "Religion and Economic Growth: Was Weber Right?," Cahiers de recherche, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques 2001-05, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
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  1. Protestantism and economic growth
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-04-22 14:46:00
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