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Pre‐Reformation Roots of the Protestant Ethic

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  • Thomas Barnebeck Andersen
  • Jeanet Bentzen
  • Carl‐Johan Dalgaard
  • Paul Sharp

Abstract

We hypothesise that cultural appreciation of hard work and thrift, the Protestant ethic according to Max Weber, had a pre‐Reformation origin: the Catholic Order of Cistercians. In support, we document an impact from the Order on growth within the epicentre of the Industrial Revolution; English counties that were more exposed to Cistercian monasteries experienced faster productivity growth from the 13th century onwards. Consistent with a cultural influence, this impact is also found after the monasteries were dissolved in the 1530s. Moreover, the values emphasised by Weber are relatively more pervasive in European regions where Cistercian monasteries were located historically.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Barnebeck Andersen & Jeanet Bentzen & Carl‐Johan Dalgaard & Paul Sharp, 2017. "Pre‐Reformation Roots of the Protestant Ethic," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(604), pages 1756-1793.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:604:p:1756-1793.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.12367
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