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The Protestant Ethic and Entrepreneurship: Evidence from Religious Minorities from the Former Holy Roman Empire

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  • Nunziata, Luca
  • Rocco, Lorenzo

Abstract

We propose a new methodology for identifying the causal effect of Protestantism versus Catholicism on the decision to become an entrepreneur. Our quasi-experimental research design exploits religious minorities' strong attachment to religious ethics and the exogenous historical determination of religious minorities' geographical distribution in the regions of the former Holy Roman Empire in the 1500s. We analyse European Social Survey data, collected in four waves between 2002 and 2008, and find that religious background has a significant effect on the individual propensity for entrepreneurship, with Protestantism increasing the probability to be an entrepreneur by around 5 percentage points with respect to Catholicism. Our findings are stable across a number of robustness checks, including accounting for migration patterns and a placebo test. We also provide an extended discussion of the assumptions' validity at the basis of our research design. This paper is one of the first attempts to identify a causal effect, rather than a simple correlation, of religious ethics on economic outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 53566.

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Date of creation: 11 Feb 2014
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53566

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Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Religion; Culture; Protestantism; Catholicism.;

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  1. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond The Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, And The Evolution Of Ethnic And Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988, August.
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  9. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2005. "Social Class and the Spirit of Capitalism," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 516-524, 04/05.
  10. Caliendo, Marco & Fossen, Frank M. & Kritikos, Alexander S., 2006. "Risk Attitudes of Nascent Entrepreneurs: New Evidence from an Experimentally-Validated Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 2168, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  13. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "Alfred Marshall Lecture Social Capital as Good Culture," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 295-320, 04-05.
  14. Nigel Tomes, 1984. "The Effects of Religion and Denomination on Earnings and the Returns to Human Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(4), pages 472-488.
  15. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1979. "A General Equilibrium Entrepreneurial Theory of Firm Formation Based on Risk Aversion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 719-48, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Nunziata, Luca & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2014. "A Tale of Minorities: Evidence on Religious Ethics and Entrepreneurship from Swiss Census Data," IZA Discussion Papers 7976, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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