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Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History: A Comment on Becker and Woessmann

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  • Christoph A. Schaltegger
  • Benno Torgler

Abstract

This comment makes a contribution to Becker and Woessmann?s paper on a human capital theory of Protestant economic history eventually challenging the famous thesis by Max Weber who attributed economic success to a specific Protestant work ethic (Quarterly Journal of Economics 124 (2) (2009) forthcoming). The authors argue for a human capital approach: higher literacy among Protestants of the 19th century (and not a Protestant work ethic) contributed to higher economic prosperity at that point in history. However, the paper leaves the question open as to whether a Protestant specific work ethic existed or exists at all. Are there observable denomination-based differences in work ethic or is Protestantism only a veil hiding the underlying role of education? We use recent data to explore the role of Protestantism on work ethic. The results indicate that today?s work ethic in fact is influenced by denomination-based religiosity and also education.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2009-06.

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Date of creation: Mar 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2009-06

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Keywords: Religion; Work Ethic; Protestantism; Education;

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Cited by:
  1. Johan Fourie & Robert Ross & Russel Viljoen, 2012. "Literacy at South African Mission Stations," Working Papers 284, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  2. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation, and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations," Department of Economics Working Papers 2011-15, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  3. Becker, Sascha O. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "Knocking on Heaven’s Door? Protestantism and Suicide," CEPR Discussion Papers 8448, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Basten, Christoph & Betz, Frank, 2011. "Marx vs. Weber: does religion affect politics and the economy?," Working Paper Series 1393, European Central Bank.
  5. Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Printing and Protestants: reforming the economics of the Reformation," MPRA Paper 31267, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Becker, Sascha & Woessmann, Ludger, 2008. "Luther and the Girls: Religious Denomination and the Female Education Gap in 19th Century Prussia," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2008-20, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  7. Kyriazis, Nicholas & Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros, 2012. "Property rights and democratic values in Bronze Age and Archaic Greece," MPRA Paper 42399, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Fabrice Murtin & Romain Wacziarg, 2011. "The Democratic Transition," NBER Working Papers 17432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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