IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence from Contemporary Germany

  • Jörg L. Spenkuch

Few theories in the social sciences have gained more widespread acceptance than Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism - despite a lack of conclusive empirical evidence. At the core of Weber's theory lies a connection between Protestantism and attitudes toward work. Using micro-data from contemporary Germany, this paper investigates the impact of Protestantism on economic outcomes and whether any such connection still exists. To break the endogeneity in religious affiliation the paper exploits the fact that the geographic distribution of Catholics and Protestants is an artifact of a provision in the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. Reduced form and instrumental variable estimates indicate that, even today, Protestantism leads to higher earnings through increased hours of work, and substantially more self-employment. Institutional factors, or differences in human capital acquisition cannot account for this effect. Instead, the data point to an explanation based on individual values akin to a Protestant Ethic.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 330.

in new window

Length: 8 ; Anh. p.
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp330
Contact details of provider: Postal: Mohrenstraße 58, D-10117 Berlin
Phone: xx49-30-89789-671
Fax: xx49-30-89789-109
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Matthias Doepke, . "Occupational Choice and the Spirit of Capitalism," UCLA Economics Online Papers 419, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Nunn, Nathan & Qian, Nancy, 2009. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 7364, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. 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).
  5. Jan Goebel & Peter Krause & Rainer Pischner & Ingo Sieber & Gert G. Wagner, 2008. "Daten- und Datenbankstruktur der Längsschnittstudie Sozio-oekonomisches Panel (SOEP)," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 89, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  6. Davide Cantoni, 2015. "The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands," Working Papers 524, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  7. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Robert B. Ekelund Jr. & Robert F. Hebert & Robert D. Tollison, 2008. "The Marketplace of Christianity," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550717, June.
  9. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
  10. Heaton, Paul, 2006. "Does Religion Really Reduce Crime?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 147-72, April.
  11. Nathan Nunn, 2009. "The Importance of History for Economic Development," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 65-92, 05.
  12. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
  13. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176, 02.
  14. McCleary, Rachel & Barro, Robert, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth across Countries," Scholarly Articles 3708464, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Rachel M. McCleary & Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Religion and Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 49-72, Spring.
  16. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2003. "People's opium? Religion and economic attitudes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 225-282, January.
  17. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
  18. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  19. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Jonathan Gruber & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2006. "The Church vs the Mall: What Happens When Religion Faces Increased Secular Competition?," NBER Working Papers 12410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. SOEP based publications

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp330. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bibliothek)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.