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Does a Protestant work ethic exist? Evidence from the well-being effect of unemployment

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  • van Hoorn, André
  • Maseland, Robbert

Abstract

Evidence on Weber's original thesis on a Protestant work ethic is ambiguous and relies on questionable measures of work attitudes. We test the relation between Protestantism and work attitudes using a novel method, operationalizing work ethic as the effect of unemployment on individuals’ subjective well-being. Analyzing a sample of 150,000 individuals from 82 societies, we find strong support for a Protestant work ethic: unemployment hurts Protestants more and hurts more in Protestant societies. Whilst the results shed new light on the Protestant work ethic debate, the method has wider applicability in the analysis of attitudinal differences.

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  • van Hoorn, André & Maseland, Robbert, 2013. "Does a Protestant work ethic exist? Evidence from the well-being effect of unemployment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 1-12.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:91:y:2013:i:c:p:1-12
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2013.03.038
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    Cited by:

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    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. Lapo Filistrucchi & Jens Prüfer, 2019. "Faithful Strategies: How Religion Shapes Nonprofit Management," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(1), pages 188-208, January.
    4. Ananyev, Maxim & Poyker, Michael, 2021. "Christian missions and anti-gay attitudes in Africa," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 359-374.
    5. Rainer Winkelmann, 2014. "Unemployment and happiness," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 1-94, October.
    6. Nikolova, Milena, 2019. "Switching to self-employment can be good for your health," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 664-691.
    7. Chen, Yangyang & Murgulov, Zoltan & Rhee, S. Ghon & Veeraraghavan, Madhu, 2016. "Religious beliefs and local government financing, investment, and cash holding decisions," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(PA), pages 258-271.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Values; Religion; Happiness; Preferences; Culture; Weber;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • P50 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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