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Protestant Work Ethic Among The Muslims: Changeable Empirical Evidence


  • Anna Shirokanova

    () (National Research University Higher School of Economics)


This paper deals with the recently revealed paradox that contemporary Muslims demonstrate a stronger Protestant work ethic (PWE) than contemporary Protestants do. I test whether this paradox is supported in a multilevel analysis on internationally comparative WVS data. According to Inglehart’s theory of post-materialist shift, work ethic should be stronger in the developing societies that do not have enough existential security. Following the debate on the Protestant work ethic I test another hypothesis saying that the effects of PWE extend beyond the religious population of Protestant countries. On waves four and five of the World Values Survey, I compare the strength of work ethic between the Muslims and Protestants in multilevel ordinal outcome models. The models built on 26,156 respondents in 56 countries show no significance in work ethic between Muslims and Protestants, all else being equal. Living in a historically Protestant society does not increase work ethic by itself, but being religious in a Protestant society does. In all developed countries, work ethic is likely to decrease. Overall, the evidence of a stronger work ethic among the Muslims is changeable; in some models, Muslims are likely to have a stronger work ethic than Protestants, but in other models Muslims are not significantly different from Protestants. This poses further research questions about the universal features of different religious ethics and on the non-religious factors explaining the progress linked with the Protestant work ethic

Suggested Citation

  • Anna Shirokanova, 2015. "Protestant Work Ethic Among The Muslims: Changeable Empirical Evidence," HSE Working papers WP BRP 60/SOC/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:60/soc/2015

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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.
    2. André van Hoorn & Robbert Maseland, 2008. "Weber, Work Ethic And Well-Being," Papers on Economics of Religion 08/07, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    3. Timur Kuran, 1997. "Islam and Underdevelopment: An Old Puzzle Revisited," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(1), pages 1-41, March.
    4. Modrack, Simone, 2008. "The protestant work ethic revisited: A promising concept or an outdated idea?," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment SP I 2008-101, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    5. Rachel M. McCleary & Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Religion and Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 49-72, Spring.
    6. ., 2006. "Religion and Development," Chapters, in: David Alexander Clark (ed.),The Elgar Companion to Development Studies, chapter 102, Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    More about this item


    work ethic; Islam; Protestantism; religion; ML; WVS;

    JEL classification:

    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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