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Printing and Protestants: An Empirical Test of the Role of Printing in the Reformation

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  • Jared Rubin

    (Chapman University)

Abstract

The causes of the Protestant Reformation have long been debated. This paper seeks to revive and econometrically test the theory that the spread of the Reformation is linked to the spread of the printing press. I test this theory by analyzing data on the spread of the press and the Reformation at the city level. An econometric analysis that instruments for omitted variable bias with a city's distance from Mainz, the birthplace of printing, suggests that cities with at least one printing press by 1500 were at minimum 29 percentage points more likely to be Protestant by 1600. © 2014 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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  • Jared Rubin, 2014. "Printing and Protestants: An Empirical Test of the Role of Printing in the Reformation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 270-286, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:96:y:2014:i:2:p:270-286
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    Cited by:

    1. Spenkuch, Jörg & Tillmann, Philipp, 2014. "Elite Influence? Religion, Economics, and the Rise of the Nazis," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100491, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Wahl, Fabian, 2016. "Does medieval trade still matter? Historical trade centers, agglomeration and contemporary economic development," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 50-60.
    3. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402 Elsevier.
    4. 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.
    5. Coşgel, Metin M. & Miceli, Thomas J. & Rubin, Jared, 2012. "The political economy of mass printing: Legitimacy and technological change in the Ottoman Empire," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 357-371.
    6. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    7. Davide Cantoni, 2015. "The Economic Effects Of The Protestant Reformation: Testing The Weber Hypothesis In The German Lands," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 561-598, August.
    8. Jeremiah Dittmar & Skipper Seabold, 2015. "Media, Markets and Institutional Change: Evidence from the Protestant Reformation," CEP Discussion Papers dp1367, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    9. Jared Rubin, 2014. "Islamic institutions and underdevelopment," Chapters,in: Handbook on Islam and Economic Life, chapter 29, pages iii-iii Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2013. "Legal centralization and the birth of the secular state," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 959-978.
    11. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2017. "Religion and work: Micro evidence from contemporary Germany," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 193-214.
    12. Giampaolo Lecce & Laura Ogliari, 2015. "Institutional Transplant and Cultural Proximity: Evidence from Nineteenth-Century Prussia," CESifo Working Paper Series 5652, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Finley, Theresa & Koyama, Mark, 2016. "Plague, Politics, and Pogroms: The Black Death, Rule of Law, and the persecution of Jews in the Holy Roman Empire," MPRA Paper 72110, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Davide Cantoni & Jeremiah Dittmar & Noam Yuchtman, 2016. "Reformation and Reallocation: Religious and Secular Economic Activity in Early Modern Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 6218, CESifo Group Munich.
    15. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2017. "Religious Tolerance as Engine of Innovation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6797, CESifo Group Munich.
    16. Dittmar, Jeremiah & Seabold, Skipper, 2015. "Media, markets and institutional change: evidence fromthe Protestant Reformation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 63814, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. Davide Cantoni & Jeremiah Dittmar & Noam Yuchtman, 2017. "Reallocation and Secularization: The Economic Consequences of the Protestant Reformation," CEP Discussion Papers dp1483, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    18. Davide Cantoni & Jeremiah Dittmar & Noam Yuchtman, 2017. "Religious Competition and Reallocation: The Political Economy of Secularization in the Protestant Reformation," NBER Working Papers 23934, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    printing; printing press; Protestant Reformation; information technology; revolt;

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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