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Marx vs. Weber: does religion affect politics and the economy?

  • Basten, Christoph
  • Betz, Frank
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    We investigate the effect of Reformed Protestantism, relative to Catholicism, on preferences for leisure and for redistribution and intervention in the economy. With a Fuzzy Spatial Regression Discontinuity Design, we exploit a historical quasiexperiment in Western Switzerland, where in the 16th century a so far homogeneous region was split and one part assigned to convert to Protestantism. We find that Reformed Protestantism reduces the fraction of citizens voting for more leisure by 13, and that voting for more redistribution and government intervention by respectively 3 and 11 percentage points. These preferences are found to translate into greater income inequality, but we find no robust effect on average income. JEL Classification: Z12, D72, H23, N33

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    File URL: http://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/pdf/scpwps/ecbwp1393.pdf
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    Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1393.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20111393
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    1. Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2010. "The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence from Contemporary Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 330, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Beatrix Brügger & Rafael Lalive & Josef Zweimüller, 2009. "Does Culture Affect Unemployment? Evidence from the Röstigraben," NRN working papers 2009-10, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    3. Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Monica Singhal, 2008. "Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 14268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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).
    6. Andrew E. Clark & Orsolya Lelkes, 2005. "Deliver us from evil: religion as insurance," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590570, HAL.
    7. Imbens, Guido W. & Kalyanaraman, Karthik, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," IZA Discussion Papers 3995, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Rachel M. McCleary & Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Religion and Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 49-72, Spring.
    9. Dehejia, Rajeev & DeLeire, Thomas & Luttmer, Erzo F.P., 2007. "Insuring consumption and happiness through religious organizations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 259-279, February.
    10. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Benno Torgler, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History: A Comment on Becker and Woessmann," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 248, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
    11. repec:pse:psecon:2005-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "Luther and the Girls: Religious Denomination and the Female Education Gap in Nineteenth-century Prussia," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(4), pages 777-805, December.
    13. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
    14. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00590570 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Alberto Alesina & Nichola Fuchs Schuendeln, 2005. "Good bye Lenin (or not?): The Effect of Communism on People's Preferences," NBER Working Papers 11700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Alesina, Alberto & Giuliano, Paola, 2009. "Preferences for Redistribution," IZA Discussion Papers 4056, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Davide Cantoni, 2010. "The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands," Working Papers 524, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
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