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Diffusing Knowledge While Spreading God'S Message: Protestantism And Economic Prosperity In China, 1840–1920

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  • Ying Bai
  • James Kai-sing Kung

Abstract

We provide an account of how Protestantism promoted economic prosperity in China—a country in which Protestant missionaries penetrated far and wide during 1840–1920, but only a tiny fraction of the population had converted to Christianity. By exploiting the spatial variation in the missionaries’ retreat due to the Boxer Uprising to identify the diffusion of Protestantism, we find that the conversion of an additional communicant per 10,000 people increases the overall urbanization rate by 18.8% when evaluated at the mean. Moreover, 90% of this effect comes from knowledge diffusion activities associated with schools and hospitals erected by the missionaries. (JEL: N35, Z12, O18)

Suggested Citation

  • Ying Bai & James Kai-sing Kung, 2015. "Diffusing Knowledge While Spreading God'S Message: Protestantism And Economic Prosperity In China, 1840–1920," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 669-698, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jeurec:v:13:y:2015:i:4:p:669-698
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/jeea.12113
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dong, Zhiqiang & Zhang, Yongjing, 2016. "Accumulated social capital, institutional quality, and economic performance: Evidence from China," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 206-219.
    2. Becker, Sascha O. & Pfaff, Steven & Rubin, Jared, 2016. "Causes and consequences of the Protestant Reformation," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1-25.
    3. Basten, Christoph & Betz, Frank, 2011. "Marx vs. Weber: does religion affect politics and the economy?," Working Paper Series 1393, European Central Bank.
    4. Henderson, Stuart, 2016. "Religion and development in post-famine Ireland," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2016-01, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    5. Sheremeta, Roman & Smith, Vernon, 2017. "The Impact of the Reformation on the Economic Development of Western Europe," MPRA Paper 87220, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Gan Jin, 2018. "Circle of Fortune: The Long Term Impact of Western Customs Institutions in China," Discussion Paper Series 37, Department of International Economic Policy, University of Freiburg, revised Jul 2018.
    7. repec:eee:deveco:v:127:y:2017:i:c:p:355-378 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure

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