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Not the Opium of the People: Income and Secularization in a Panel of Prussian Counties

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  • Becker, Sascha O.

    (Monash University)

  • Woessmann, Ludger

    (University of Munich)

Abstract

The interplay between religion and the economy has occupied social scientists for long. We construct a unique panel of income and Protestant church attendance for six waves of up to 175 Prussian counties spanning 1886-1911. The data reveal a marked decline in church attendance coinciding with increasing income. The cross-section also shows a negative association between income and church attendance. But the association disappears in panel analyses, including first-differenced models of the 1886-1911 change, panel models with county and time fixed effects, and panel Granger-causality tests. The results cast doubt on causal interpretations of the religion-economy nexus in Prussian secularization.

Suggested Citation

  • Becker, Sascha O. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2013. "Not the Opium of the People: Income and Secularization in a Panel of Prussian Counties," IZA Discussion Papers 7151, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7151
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Lipford, Jody W. & Tollison, Robert D., 2003. "Religious participation and income," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 249-260, June.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    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. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
    7. Sascha O. Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann, 2014. "iPEHD--The ifo Prussian Economic History Database," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(2), pages 57-66, June.
    8. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Corrigenda [Introduction to the Economics of Religion]," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 1941-1941, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Davide Cantoni & Franziska Kugler & Ludger Wößmann, 2014. "Der lange Schatten der Geschichte: Mechanismen der Persistenz in der Wirtschaftsgeschichte," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 67(02), pages 13-22, January.
    2. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2018. "Social Cohesion, Religious Beliefs, and the Effect of Protestantism on Suicide," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(3), pages 377-391, July.
    3. Sascha O. Becker & Lukas Mergele & Ludger Woessmann, 2020. "The Separation and Reunification of Germany: Rethinking a Natural Experiment Interpretation of the Enduring Effects of Communism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 143-171, Spring.
    4. Becker, Sascha O. & Nagler, Markus & Woessmann, Ludger, 2014. "Education Promoted Secularization," CEPR Discussion Papers 9884, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Sascha O. Becker & Jared Rubin & Ludger Woessmann, 2020. "Religion in Economic History: A Survey," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 480, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    6. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    7. Sascha O. Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann, 2014. "iPEHD--The ifo Prussian Economic History Database," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(2), pages 57-66, June.
    8. Emmanuelle Auriol & Julie Lassébie & Amma Panin & Eva Raiber & Paul Seabright, 2020. "God Insures those Who Pay? Formal Insurance and Religious Offerings in Ghana," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 135(4), pages 1799-1848.
    9. Benjamin Bittschi & Sarah Borgloh & Berthold U. Wigger, 2020. "Philanthropy in a Secular Society," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 176(4), pages 640-664.
    10. Ozan Aksoy, 2021. "Preaching to Social Media: Turkey’s Friday Khutbas and Their Effects on Twitter," DoQSS Working Papers 21-17, Quantitative Social Science - UCL Social Research Institute, University College London.
    11. Allen Bellas & Lea-Rachel Kosnik, 2019. "Which leading journal leads? Idea diffusion in economics research journals," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 57(3), pages 901-921, September.
    12. Andersen, Thomas Barnebeck & Jensen, Peter Sandholt, 2019. "Preaching democracy: The second Vatican council and the third wave," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 525-540.
    13. Shino Takayama & Yuki Tamura & Terence Yeo, 2019. "Primaries, Strategic Voters and Heterogenous Valences," Discussion Papers Series 605, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    14. Chris Muris, 2020. "Efficient GMM Estimation with Incomplete Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 518-530, July.
    15. 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.
    16. Mavisakalyan, Astghik & Tarverdi, Yashar & Weber, Clas, 2020. "Paradise Postponed: Future Tense and Religiosity," GLO Discussion Paper Series 500, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    17. Bittschi, Benjamin & Borgloh, Sarah & Wigger, Berthold, 2015. "Secularization, tax policy and prosocial behavior," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113065, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    18. Lingguo Xu & Peter E. Earl & D. S. Prasada Rao, 2019. "Materialism and Economic Progress," Discussion Papers Series 604, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    19. Allen Bellas & Lea Kosnik, 2016. "Which Leading Journal Leads? Idea Diffusion in Economics Research Journals," Working Papers 1013, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Department of Economics.
    20. Aksoy, Ozan, 2021. "Preaching to Social Media: Turkey’s Friday Khutbas and Their Effects on Twitter," SocArXiv ngdrv, Center for Open Science.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Prussian economic history; secularization; religion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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