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

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  • Davide Cantoni

Abstract

Using a rich dataset of territories and cities of the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th century, this paper 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 can be explained through a theory of strategic neighborhood interactions: in an uncertain legal context, introducing the Reformation was a risky enterprise for territorial lords, and had higher prospects of success if powerful neighboring states committed to the new faith first. The model is tested in a panel dataset featuring the dates of introduction of the Reformation.
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  • Davide Cantoni, 2012. "Adopting a New Religion: the Case of Protestantism in 16th Century Germany," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(560), pages 502-531, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:122:y:2012:i:560:p:502-531
    DOI: j.1468-0297.2012.02495.x
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • R38 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Government Policy

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