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From Worship to Worldly Pleasures: Secularization and Long-Run Economic Growth

Author

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  • Holger Strulik

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

Abstract

In medieval times, most people identifi ed with religious values and aggregate income and productivity grew at glacier speed. In the 20th century, religion played a much lesser role in daily life and income and productivity grew at high and unprecedented rates. The present paper develops a simple economic theory of identity choice that explains both stylized facts as well as a period of secularization during which an increasing share of the population abandons religious identity for worldly pleasures and aggregate productivity takes off . An extension of the basic model investigates the Protestant reformation as an intermediate stage. Another extension introduces socially-dependent religious preferences, establishes the endogenous emergence of multiple, self-ful lling equilibria, and demonstrates how a social multiplier amplifi es the speed of transition.

Suggested Citation

  • Holger Strulik, 2012. "From Worship to Worldly Pleasures: Secularization and Long-Run Economic Growth," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 116, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  • Handle: RePEc:got:gotcrc:116
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    File URL: http://www2.vwl.wiso.uni-goettingen.de/courant-papers/CRC-PEG_DP_116.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David de la Croix & Clara Delavallade, 2015. "Religions, Fertility and Growth in South-East Asia," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2015002, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. repec:taf:applec:v:49:y:2017:i:30:p:2922-2938 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Dierk Herzer & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Religiosity and income: a panel cointegration and causality analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(30), pages 2922-2938, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    religion; identity; economic growth; productivity; secularization; comparative development;

    JEL classification:

    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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