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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.
    9. 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).
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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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