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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 territorys 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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File URL: http://research.barcelonagse.eu/tmp/working_papers/540.pdf
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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: Mar 2011
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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," IEW - Working Papers 360, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Mukand, Sharun & Rodrik, Dani, 2002. "In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation and Economic Performance," Working Paper Series rwp02-027, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2004. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," NBER Working Papers 10438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Murat Iyigun, 2008. "Luther and Suleyman," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1465-1494, November.
  5. 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).
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