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The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence from Contemporary Germany

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  • Spenkuch, Jörg L.

Abstract

Few theories in the social sciences have gained more widespread acceptance than Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism—despite a lack of conclusive empirical evidence. At the core of Weber’s theory lies a connection between Protestantism and attitudes toward work. Using micro-data from contemporary Germany, this paper investigates the impact of Protestantism on economic outcomes and whether any such connection still exists. To break the endogeneity in religious affiliation the paper exploits the fact that the geographic distribution of Catholics and Protestants is an artifact of a provision in the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. Reduced form and instrumental variable estimates indicate that, even today, Protestantism leads to higher earnings through increased hours of work, and substantially more self-employment. Institutional factors, or differences in human capital acquisition cannot account for this effect. Instead, the data point to an explanation based on individual values akin to a Protestant Ethic.

Suggested Citation

  • Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2010. "The Protestant Ethic and Work: Micro Evidence from Contemporary Germany," MPRA Paper 26444, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:26444
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Blum, Matthias & Strebel, Matthias, 2016. "Max Weber and the First World War: Protestant and Catholic living standards in Germany, 1915–1919," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 699-719, September.
    2. Anja Koebrich Leon, 2013. "Religion and Economic Outcomes – Household Savings Behavior in the USA," Working Paper Series in Economics 268, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
    3. Davide Cantoni, 2015. "The Economic Effects Of The Protestant Reformation: Testing The Weber Hypothesis In The German Lands," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 561-598, August.
    4. Filipe R. Campante & David H. Yanagizawa-Drott, 2013. "Does Religion Affect Economic Growth and Happiness? Evidence from Ramadan," NBER Working Papers 19768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Basten, Christoph & Betz, Frank, 2011. "Marx vs. Weber: does religion affect politics and the economy?," Working Paper Series 1393, European Central Bank.
    6. Anja Köbrich León, 2013. "Does Cultural Heritage Affect Employment Decisions: Empirical Evidence for First- and Second Generation Immigrants in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 553, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Nunziata, Luca & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2014. "The Protestant Ethic and Entrepreneurship: Evidence from Religious Minorities from the Former Holy Roman Empire," MPRA Paper 53566, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Baele, L. & Farooq, M. & Ongena, S., 2012. "Of Religion and Redemption : Evidence from Default on Islamic Loans (Replaces CentER DP 2010-136)," Discussion Paper 2012-014, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    9. Giampaolo Lecce & Laura Ogliari, 2015. "Institutional Transplant and Cultural Proximity: Evidence from Nineteenth-Century Prussia," CESifo Working Paper Series 5652, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Baele, Lieven & Farooq, Moazzam & Ongena, Steven, 2014. "Of religion and redemption: Evidence from default on Islamic loans," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 141-159.
    11. Nunziata, Luca & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2011. "The Implications of Cultural Background on Labour Market Choices: The Case of Religion and Entrepreneurship," IZA Discussion Papers 6114, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Anja Koebrich Leon, 2013. "Does Cultural Heritage affect Employment decisions – Empirical Evidence for Second Generation Immigrants in Germany," Working Paper Series in Economics 270, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
    13. Kiesel, Konstantin & Noth, Felix, 2016. "When Debt spells Sin: Does Religiosity guard against Over-Indebtedness?," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145774, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    14. Farooq, M., 2011. "Essays on financial intermediation and markets," Other publications TiSEM dc26a629-d872-498e-8b68-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    15. repec:eee:poleco:v:51:y:2018:i:c:p:27-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Libman, Alexander, 2012. "Перераспределительные Конфликты И Факторы Культуры В Новой Политической Экономии
      [Redistributive Conflicts and Culture in the New Political Economy]
      ," MPRA Paper 48192, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Christoph Basten & Frank Betz, 2012. "Beyond Work Ethic," KOF Working papers 12-309, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    18. Linz, Susan J. & Luke Chu, Yu-Wei, 2013. "Work ethic in formerly socialist economies," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 185-203.
    19. Malik Curuk & Sjak Smulders, 2016. "Malthus Meets Luther: The Economics Behind the German Reformation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6010, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    religion; economic effects of religion; Protestantism; impact of Protestantism; Reformation;

    JEL classification:

    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General

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