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

  • Becker, Sascha O.

    ()

    (University of Warwick)

  • Woessmann, Ludger

    ()

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

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.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7151.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings, 2013, 103 (3), 539-544
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7151
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  1. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2007. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," CESifo Working Paper Series 1987, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Rachel M. McCleary & Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Religion and Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 49-72, Spring.
  3. 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.
  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. Becker, Sascha & Cinnirella, Francesco & Hornung, Eric & Woessmann, Ludger, 2012. "iPEHD - The ifo Prussian Economic History Database," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 96, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  6. 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.
  7. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
  8. Lipford, Jody W. & Tollison, Robert D., 2003. "Religious participation and income," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 249-260, June.
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