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Max Weber and the First World War: Protestant and Catholic living standards in Germany, 1915-1919

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  • Matthias Blum
  • Matthias Strebel

Abstract

We assess informal institutions of Protestants and Catholics by investigating their economic resilience in a natural experiment. The First World War constitutes an exogenous shock to living standards since the duration and intensity of the war exceeded all expectations. We assess the ability of Protestant and Catholic communities to cope with increasing food prices and wartime black markets. Literature based on Weber (1904, 1905) suggests that Protestants must be more resilient than their Catholic peers. Using individual height data on some 2,800 Germans to assess levels of malnutrition during the war, we find that living standards for both Protestants and Catholics declined; however, the decrease of Catholics’ height was disproportionately large. Our empirical analysis finds a large statistically significant difference between Protestants and Catholics for the 1914-19 birth cohort, and we argue that this height gap cannot be attributed to socioeconomic background and fertility alone.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Blum & Matthias Strebel, 2015. "Max Weber and the First World War: Protestant and Catholic living standards in Germany, 1915-1919," Economics Working Papers 15-04, Queen's Management School, Queen's University Belfast.
  • Handle: RePEc:qub:wpaper:1504
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Germany; First World War; Religion; Protestantism; Catholicism; Economic History; Anthropometrics; Biological Standard of Living; Height; Stature;

    JEL classification:

    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General

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