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The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands

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  • Cantoni, Davide

Abstract

Following Max Weber, many theories have hypothesized that Protestantism should have favored economic development. With its religious heterogeneity, the Holy Roman Empire presents an ideal testing ground for this hypothesis. Using population figures of 272 cities in the years 1300–1900, I find no effects of Protestantism on economic growth. The finding is precisely estimated, robust to the inclusion of various controls, and does not depend on data selection or small sample size. Protestantism has no effect when interacted with other likely determinants of economic development. Instrumental variables estimates, considering the potential endogeneity of religious choice, are similar to the OLS results.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:14811
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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. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Cantoni & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2011. "The Consequences of Radical Reform: The French Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3286-3307, December.
    3. Leonard Dudley & Ulrich Blum, 2001. "Religion and economic growth: was Weber right?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 207-230.
    4. Robert B. Ekelund, Jr. & Robert F. Hebert & Robert D. Tollison, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of the Protestant Reformation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 646-671, June.
    5. 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).
    6. Murat Iyigun, 2008. "Luther and Suleyman," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1465-1494.
    7. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
    8. Sascha O. Becker & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann, 2011. "Education and Catch-Up in the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 92-126, July.
    9. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2005. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 922-948, December.
    10. repec:hrv:faseco:30726298 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Blum, U. & Dudley, L., 2001. "Religion and Economic Growth: Was Weber Right?," Cahiers de recherche 2001-05, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
    12. Jared Rubin, 2014. "Printing and Protestants: An Empirical Test of the Role of Printing in the Reformation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 270-286, May.
    13. Grier, Robin, 1997. "The Effect of Religion on Economic Development: A Cross National Study of Sixty-three Former Colonies," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 47-62.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Protestantism; Culture; Economic Growth; Historical Development; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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