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Beyond Work Ethic: Religion, Individual and Political Preferences

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    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. 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.
    2. Brügger, Beatrix & Lalive, Rafael & Zweimüller, Josef, 2009. "Does Culture Affect Unemployment? Evidence from the Röstigraben," CEPR Discussion Papers 7405, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Gruber, Jonathan & Hungerman, Daniel M., 2007. "Faith-based charity and crowd-out during the great depression," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 1043-1069, June.
    4. Luttmer, Erzo F. P. & Singhal, Monica, 2008. "Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution," Working Paper Series rwp08-038, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Beatrix Brügger & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Steinhauer & Josef Zweimüller, 2011. "The demand for social insurance: does culture matter?," ECON - Working Papers 041, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    8. Boppart, Timo & Falkinger, Josef & Grossmann, Volker & Woitek, Ulrich & Wüthrich, Gabriela, 2008. "Qualifying Religion: The Role of Plural Identities for Educational Production," IZA Discussion Papers 3408, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
    10. repec:oup:restud:v:79:y::i:3:p:933-959 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. 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, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294, November.
    12. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Technical Working Papers 0337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Boppart, Timo & Falkinger, Josef & Grossmann, Volker, 2011. "Protestantism and Education: Reading (the Bible) and Other Skills," Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis 48732, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    14. Imbens, Guido W. & Kalyanaraman, Karthik, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," IZA Discussion Papers 3995, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Susanne Schennach & James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," 2007 Meeting Papers 973, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, June.
    17. Benito Arruñada, 2010. "Protestants and Catholics: Similar Work Ethic, Different Social Ethic," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(547), pages 890-918, 09.
    18. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2010. "The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence from Contemporary Germany," MPRA Paper 26444, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Davide Cantoni, 2015. "The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands," Working Papers 524, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    20. Huber, John D. & Stanig, Piero, 2011. "Church-state separation and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 828-836, August.
    21. Huber, John D. & Stanig, Piero, 2011. "Church-state separation and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 828-836.
    22. Alberto F. Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2009. "Preferences for Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 14825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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