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

  • Cantoni, Davide

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.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 14811.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:14811
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  1. 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.
  2. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2004. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?," IZA Discussion Papers 1224, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. 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.
  4. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2010. "The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence from Contemporary Germany," MPRA Paper 26444, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. BLUM, Ulrich & DUDLEY, Leonard, 2001. "Religion and Economic Growth: Was Weber Right?," Cahiers de recherche 2001-05, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  6. Acemoglu, Daron & Cantoni, Davide & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2011. "The consequences of radical reform: The French revolution," Munich Reprints in Economics 20170, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  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. Murat Iyigun, 2008. "Luther and Suleyman," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1465-1494, November.
  9. 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.
  10. Ulrich Blum & Leonard Dudley, 2001. "Religion and economic growth: was Weber right?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 207-230, February.
  11. 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.
  12. 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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