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Devotion and Development: Religiosity, Education, and Economic Progress in 19th-Century France

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  • Squicciarini, Mara

Abstract

This paper uses a historical setting to study when religion can be a barrier to the diffusion of knowledge and economic development, and through which mechanism. I focus on 19th-century Catholicism and analyze a crucial phase of modern economic growth, the Second Industrial Revolution (1870-1914) in France. In this period, technology became skill-intensive, leading to the introduction of technical education in primary schools. At the same time, the Catholic Church was promoting a particularly antiscientific program and opposed the adoption of a technical curriculum. Using data collected from primary and secondary sources, I exploit preexisting variation in the intensity of Catholicism (i.e., religiosity) among French districts and cantons. I show that, despite a stable spatial distribution of religiosity over time, more religious locations had lower economic development only during the Second Industrial Revolution, but not before. Schooling appears to be the key mechanism: more religious areas saw a slower introduction of the technical curriculum and instead a push for religious education. Religious education, in turn, was negatively associated with industrial development about 10 to15 years later, when school-aged children entered the labor market, and this negative relationship was more pronounced in skill-intensive industrial sectors.

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  • Squicciarini, Mara, 2019. "Devotion and Development: Religiosity, Education, and Economic Progress in 19th-Century France," CEPR Discussion Papers 13877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13877
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 531-596.
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    6. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1975_30n6_1144 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Vincent Bignon & Cecilia Garcia-Peñalosa, 2018. "The Toll of Tariffs: Protectionism, Education and Fertility in Late 19th Century France," Working papers 690, Banque de France.
    8. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human Capital; Industrialization; Religiosity;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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