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Assimilate for God: The Impact of Religious Divisions on Danish American Communities

Author

Listed:
  • Sinding Bentzen, Jeanet

    (University of Copenhagen, CAGE, CEPR)

  • Boberg-Fazli´c, Nina

    (TU Dortmund University, CEPR)

  • Sharp, Paul

    (University of Southern Denmark, CAGE, CEPR)

  • Volmar Skovsgaard, Christian

    (University of Southern Denmark)

  • Vedel, Christian

    (University of Southern Denmark)

Abstract

The cultural assimilation of immigrants into the host society is often equated with prospects for economic success, with religion seen as a potential barrier. We investigate the role of ethnic enclaves and churches for the assimilation of Danish Americans using a difference in differences setting. Following the ordination of a divisive religious figure in 1883, this otherwise small and homogeneous group split into rival Lutheran revivalist camps so called Happy and Holy Danes. The former sought the preservation of Danish culture and tradition, while the latter encouraged assimilation. We use data from the US census and Danish American church and newspaper archives, and find that Danish Americans living in a county with a Happy church chose more Danish names for their children. Newspapers read by Holy Danes saw a more rapid Anglicization of the language used. Religious beliefs thus facilitated assimilation. Divergence in behaviour only emerged following the religious division.

Suggested Citation

  • Sinding Bentzen, Jeanet & Boberg-Fazli´c, Nina & Sharp, Paul & Volmar Skovsgaard, Christian & Vedel, Christian, 2024. "Assimilate for God: The Impact of Religious Divisions on Danish American Communities," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 703, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:703
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Assimilation; Danish Americans; enclaves; immigration; religion JEL Classification: F22; J61; N31; N32;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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