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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 Weber’s 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 1300–1900, 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 Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1260.

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Date of creation: Dec 2010
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1260

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

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  1. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2010. "The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence from Contemporary Germany," MPRA Paper 26444, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Becker, Sascha O. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2007. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," Discussion Papers in Economics 1366, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Acemoglu, Daron & Cantoni, Davide & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2011. "The consequences of radical reform: The French revolution," Munich Reprints in Economics 20170, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
  5. Grier, Robin, 1997. "The Effect of Religion on Economic Development: A Cross National Study of Sixty-three Former Colonies," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 47-62.
  6. Jared Rubin, 2014. "Printing and Protestants: An Empirical Test of the Role of Printing in the Reformation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 270-286, May.
  7. Murat Iyigun, 2008. "Luther and Suleyman," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1465-1494, November.
  8. BLUM, Ulrich & DUDLEY, Leonard, 2001. "Religion and Economic Growth: Was Weber Right?," Cahiers de recherche 2001-05, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  9. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2004. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions or Minorities?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4604, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  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, vol. 110(3), pages 646-671, June.
  11. Sascha O. Becker & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann, 2011. "Education and Catch-Up in the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 92-126, July.
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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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