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Protestantism and Education: Reading (the Bible) and Other Skills

  • Boppart, Timo

    ()

    (University of Zurich)

  • Falkinger, Josef

    ()

    (University of Zurich)

  • Grossmann, Volker

    ()

    (University of Fribourg)

During industrialization, Protestants were more literate than Catholics. This paper investigates whether this fact may be led back to the intrinsic motivation of Protestants to read the bible and whether other education motives were involved as well. We employ a historical data set from Switzerland which allows us to differentiate between different cognitive skills: reading, numeracy, essay writing and Swiss history. We develop an estimation strategy to examine whether the impact of religious denomination was particularly large with respect to reading capabilities. We find support for this hypothesis. However, Protestants’ education motives went beyond reading the bible.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5402.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Inquiry, 2014, 52 (2), 874-895
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5402
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  1. Becker, Sascha & Woessmann, Ludger, 2010. "The Effect of Protestantism on Education before the Industrialization: Evidence from 1816 Prussia," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2010-01, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  2. 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).
  3. Becker, Sascha & Woessmann, Ludger, 2008. "Luther and the Girls: Religious Denomination and the Female Education Gap in 19th Century Prussia," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2008-20, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  4. Boppart, Timo & Falkinger, Josef & Grossmann, Volker & Woitek, Ulrich & Wüthrich, Gabriela, 2013. "Under which conditions does religion affect educational outcomes?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 242-266.
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