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Luther and the Girls: Religious Denomination and the Female Education Gap in Nineteenth-century Prussia


  • Sascha O. Becker
  • Ludger Woessmann


Martin Luther urged each town to have a girls' school so that girls would learn to read the Gospel, thereby evoking a surge of building girls' schools in Protestant areas. Using county- and town-level data from the first Prussian census of 1816, we show that a larger share of Protestants decreased the gender gap in basic education. This result holds when using only the exogenous variation in Protestantism due to a county's or town's distance to Wittenberg, the birthplace of the Reformation. Similar results are found for the gender gap in literacy among the adult population in 1871. Copyright © The editors of the "Scandinavian Journal of Economics" 2008 .

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:110:y:2008:i:4:p:777-805

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein, 2007. "From Farmers to Merchants, Conversions and Diaspora: Human Capital and Jewish History," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(5), pages 885-926, September.
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    3. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-563, July.
    4. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother's Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532.
    5. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2005. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 922-948, December.
    6. Goldin, Claudia, 2006. "The Quiet Revolution That Transformed Women’s Employment, Education, and Family," Scholarly Articles 2943933, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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