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Beyond Work Ethic: Religion, Individual and Political Preferences

We investigate the effect of Reformed Protestantism, relative to Catholicism, on preferences for leisure, and for redistribution and intervention in the economy. We use a Fuzzy Spatial Regression Discontinuity Design to exploit a historical quasi-experiment in Western Switzerland, where in the 16th century a hitherto homogeneous region was split and one part assigned to adopt Protestantism. We find that Reformed Protestantism reduces referenda voting for more leisure by 12, for redistribution by 7, and for government intervention by 6 percentage points. These preferences translate into higher per capita income as well as greater income inequality.

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Paper provided by KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich in its series KOF Working papers with number 12-309.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kof:wpskof:12-309
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  1. Jonathan Gruber & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2005. "Faith-Based Charity and Crowd Out during the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 11332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Becker, Sascha O. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2007. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," Discussion Papers in Economics 1366, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Beatrix Brügger & Rafael Lalive & Josef Zweimüller, 2009. "Does Culture Affect Unemployment? Evidence from the Röstigraben," CESifo Working Paper Series 2714, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Alberto F. Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2009. "Preferences for Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 14825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Benito Arruñada, 2010. "Protestants and Catholics: Similar Work Ethic, Different Social Ethic," Working Papers 497, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  6. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," NBER Working Papers 14723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Technical Working Papers 0337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Cantoni, Davide, 2013. "The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands," Discussion Papers in Economics 14811, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
  10. Huber, John D. & Stanig, Piero, 2011. "Church-state separation and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 828-836.
  11. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Schennach, Susanne, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 4702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," NBER Working Papers 14726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Timo Boppart & Josef Falkinger & Volker Grossmann, 2014. "Protestantism And Education: Reading (The Bible) And Other Skills," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(2), pages 874-895, 04.
  14. Timo Boppart & Josef Falkinger & Volker Grossmann & Ulrich Woitek & Gabriela Wüthrich, 2008. "Qualifying Religion: The Role of Plural Identities for Educational Production," CESifo Working Paper Series 2283, CESifo Group Munich.
  15. Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Monica Singhal, 2011. "Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 157-79, February.
  16. repec:oup:restud:v:79:y::i:3:p:933-959 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Rajeev Dehejia & Thomas DeLeire & Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2005. "Insuring Consumption and Happiness Through Religious Organizations," NBER Working Papers 11576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2010. "The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence from Contemporary Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 330, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  19. Hungerman, Daniel M., 2005. "Are church and state substitutes? Evidence from the 1996 welfare reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2245-2267, December.
  20. Beatrix Eugster & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Steinhauer & Josef Zweimüller, 2011. "The Demand for Social Insurance: Does Culture Matter?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(556), pages F413-F448, November.
  21. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, March.
  22. Huber, John D. & Stanig, Piero, 2011. "Church-state separation and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 828-836, August.
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