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Adopting a New Religion: The Case of Protestantism in 16th Century Germany

  • Cantoni, Davide

Using a dataset of territories and cities of the Holy Roman Empire in the sixteenth century, this article investigates the determinants of adoption and diffusion of Protestantism as a state religion. A territory’s distance to Wittenberg, the city where Martin Luther taught, is a major determinant of adoption. This finding is consistent with a theory of strategic neighbourhood interactions: introducing the Reformation was a risky enterprise for territorial lords and had higher prospects of success if powerful neighbouring states committed to the new faith. The actual spatial and temporal patterns of expansion of Protestantism are analysed in a panel dataset.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 20004.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Economic Journal 560 122(2012): pp. 502-531
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20004
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  1. Sharun Mukand & Dani Rodrik, 2002. "In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation, and Economic Performance," NBER Working Papers 9134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2004. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," NBER Working Papers 10438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Becker, Sascha O. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," Munich Reprints in Economics 20255, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Murat Iyigun, 2008. "Luther and Suleyman," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1465-1494, November.
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