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Printing and Protestants: reforming the economics of the Reformation

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  • Rubin, Jared

Abstract

The causes of the Protestant Reformation have long been debated. This paper attempts to revive and econometrically test the theory that the spread of the Reformation is linked to the spread of the printing press. The proposed causal pathway is that the printing press permitted the ideas of the Reformation to reach a broader audience. I test this hypothesis by analyzing data on the spread of the press and the Reformation at the city level. An econometric analysis which instruments for omitted variable bias suggests that within the Holy Roman Empire, cities within 10 miles of a printing press by 1500 were 57.4 percentage points more likely to be Protestant by 1600. These results are robust, though the effects are weaker, across Western Europe. The analysis also suggests that the early spread of press affected religious choice into the 19th century.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 31267.

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Date of creation: 03 Jun 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:31267

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Keywords: Printing Press; Protestant Reformation; Information Technology; Revolt;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli & Jared Rubin, 2010. "The Political Economy of Mass Printing: Legitimacy and Technological Change in the Ottoman Empire," Working papers 2010-02, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2012.
  2. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402 Elsevier.
  3. Davide Cantoni, 2010. "The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands," Working Papers 524, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

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