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Marx vs. Weber: does religion affect politics and the economy?

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  • Basten, Christoph
  • Betz, Frank
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    Abstract

    We investigate the effect of Reformed Protestantism, relative to Catholicism, on preferences for leisure and for redistribution and intervention in the economy. With a Fuzzy Spatial Regression Discontinuity Design, we exploit a historical quasiexperiment in Western Switzerland, where in the 16th century a so far homogeneous region was split and one part assigned to convert to Protestantism. We find that Reformed Protestantism reduces the fraction of citizens voting for more leisure by 13, and that voting for more redistribution and government intervention by respectively 3 and 11 percentage points. These preferences are found to translate into greater income inequality, but we find no robust effect on average income. JEL Classification: Z12, D72, H23, N33

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1393.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20111393

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    Related research

    Keywords: culture; Max Weber; political preferences; Protestant work ethic; Regression Discontinuity Design;

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    1. Imbens, Guido W. & Kalyanaraman, Karthik, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," IZA Discussion Papers 3995, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "Luther and the Girls: Religious Denomination and the Female Education Gap in Nineteenth-century Prussia," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(4), pages 777-805, December.
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    4. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Benno Torgler, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History: A Comment on Becker and Woessmann," CREMA Working Paper Series 2009-06, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
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    7. Davide Cantoni, 2010. "The economic effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber hypothesis in the German Lands," Economics Working Papers 1260, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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    13. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00590570 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Beatrix Brügger & Rafael Lalive & Josef Zweimüller, 2009. "Does Culture Affect Unemployment? Evidence from the Röstigraben," CESifo Working Paper Series 2714, CESifo Group Munich.
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