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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 hypothesize that cultural appreciation of hard work and thrift,the Protestant ethic according to Max Weber,had a pre-Reformation origin.The proximate source of these values was,according to the proposed theory,the Catholic Order of Cistercians.In support,we first document an impact from the Order on growth within the epicenter 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.Second,we find that the values emphasized by Weber are relatively more pervasive in European regions where Cistercian monasteries were located historically,and that the legacy of the Cistercianscan be detected inpresent-day employment rates across European sub-regions.
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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, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:604:p:1756-1793
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.2017.127.issue-604
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    Cited by:

    1. Vollmer, Sebastian & Heldring, Leander & Robinson, James A., 2014. "Monks, Gents and Industrialists: The Long-Run Impact of the Dissolution of the English Monasteries," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100275, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Harutyunyan, Ani & Özak, Ömer, 2017. "Culture, diffusion, and economic development: The problem of observational equivalence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 94-100.
    3. repec:eee:poleco:v:51:y:2018:i:c:p:27-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Luca Nunziata & Lorenzo Rocco, 2016. "A tale of minorities: evidence on religious ethics and entrepreneurship," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 189-224, June.
    5. Ani Harutyunyan & Omer Ozak, 2016. "Culture, diffusion, and economic development," Working Papers LICOS Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance 551450, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, LICOS Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance.
    6. Franck, Raphael & Galor, Oded, 2017. "Industrial Development and Long-Run Prosperity," CEPR Discussion Papers 12278, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Guerriero, Carmine & Boranbay, Serra, 2012. "Endogenous (In)Formal Institutions," MPRA Paper 71028, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 22 Apr 2016.
    8. Guerriero, Carmine, 2013. "Endogenous Institutions and Economic Outcomes," MPRA Paper 70879, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 21 Jan 2015.

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