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

  • Davide Cantoni

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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Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 540.

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Date of creation: Sep 2015
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:540
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  1. Timo Boppart & Josef Falkinger & Volker Grossmann & Ulrich Woitek & Gabriela Wüthrich, 2008. "Qualifying Religion: The Role of Plural Identities for Educational Production," CESifo Working Paper Series 2283, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Sharun Mukand & Dani Rodrik, 2002. "In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation, and Economic Performance," NBER Working Papers 9134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Becker, Sascha O. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2007. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," IZA Discussion Papers 2886, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. Mccleary, 2005. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1331-1370, November.
  5. Murat Iyigun, 2008. "Luther and Suleyman," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1465-1494, November.
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