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Adopting a New Religion: the Case of Protestantism in 16th Century Germany

  • Davide Cantoni

Using a dataset of territories and cities of the Holy Roman Empire in the sixteenth century, this article investigates the determinants of adoption and diffusion of Protestantism as a state religion. A territory’s distance to Wittenberg, the city where Martin Luther taught, is a major determinant of adoption. This finding is consistent with a theory of strategic neighbourhood interactions: introducing the Reformation was a risky enterprise for territorial lords and had higher prospects of success if powerful neighbouring states committed to the new faith. The actual spatial and temporal patterns of expansion of Protestantism are analysed in a panel dataset.

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 122 (2012)
Issue (Month): 560 (05)
Pages: 502-531

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:122:y:2012:i:560:p:502-531
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  1. Sharun Mukand & Dani Rodrik, 2002. "In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation, and Economic Performance," NBER Working Papers 9134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Murat Iyigun, 2008. "Luther and Suleyman," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1465-1494, November.
  3. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2007. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," CESifo Working Paper Series 1987, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2004. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," NBER Working Papers 10438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Timo Boppart & Josef Falkinger & Volker Grossmann & Ulrich Woitek & Gabriela Wüthrich, 2008. "Qualifying Religion: The Role of Plural Identities for Educational Production," CESifo Working Paper Series 2283, CESifo Group Munich.
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