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Media, Markets and Institutional Change: Evidence from the Protestant Reformation

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  • Jeremiah Dittmar
  • Skipper Seabold

Abstract

This research studies the role of competition in the diffusion of radical ideas and institutional change during the Protestant Reformation. We construct a new measure of religious content in the media using data on all known books and pamphlets printed in German-speaking Europe 1454-1600. We find that Protestant content was produced in greater quantity in local media markets with more competing firms when Martin Luther circulated his initial arguments for reform in 1517. We find that competition mattered differentially more for the diffusion of Protestant ideas and for institutional change where city governments had the least legal autonomy from feudal lords. We document the relationship between competition and diffusion directly and using the deaths of printers to isolate plausibly exogenous variation in competition. We show that cities where initial competition was greater, and which were more exposed to Protestant ideas, were more likely to adopt the legal institutions of the Reformation.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremiah Dittmar & Skipper Seabold, 2015. "Media, Markets and Institutional Change: Evidence from the Protestant Reformation," CEP Discussion Papers dp1367, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1367
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sascha O. Becker & Luigi Pascali, 2019. "Religion, Division of Labor, and Conflict: Anti-semitism in Germany over 600 Years," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(5), pages 1764-1804, May.
    2. Julia Cage & Valeria Rueda, 2017. "The Devil is in the Detail: Christian Missions’ Heterogeneous Effects on Development in sub-Saharan Africa," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/7ta31jvjhg9, Sciences Po.
    3. 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.
    4. Stefano Comino & Alberto Galasso & Clara Graziano, 2017. "The Diffusion of New Institutions: Evidence from Renaissance Venice's Patent System," CESifo Working Paper Series 6612, CESifo.
    5. Ran Abramitzky, 2015. "Economics and the Modern Economic Historian," NBER Working Papers 21636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Sascha O. Becker & Luigi Pascali, 2019. "Religion, Division of Labor, and Conflict: Anti-semitism in Germany over 600 Years," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(5), pages 1764-1804, May.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    competition; firms; media; technology; institutions; religion; politics; high-dimensional data;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N94 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: 1913-
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • C55 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Large Data Sets: Modeling and Analysis

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