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Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History: A Comment on Becker and Woessmann

  • Christoph A. Schaltegger
  • Benno Torgler

This comment makes a contribution to Becker and Woessmann’s paper on a human capital theory of Protestant economic history eventually challenging the famous thesis by Max Weber who attributed economic success to a specific Protestant work ethic (Quarterly Journal of Economics 124 (2) (2009) forthcoming). The authors argue for a human capital approach: higher literacy among Protestants of the 19th century (and not a Protestant work ethic) contributed to higher economic prosperity at that point in history. However, the paper leaves the question open as to whether a Protestant specific work ethic existed or exists at all. Are there observable denomination-based differences in work ethic or is Protestantism only a veil hiding the underlying role of education? We use recent data to explore the role of Protestantism on work ethic. The results indicate that today’s work ethic in fact is influenced by denomination-based religiosity and also education.

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File URL: http://external-apps.qut.edu.au/business/documents/discussionPapers/2009/DiscussionPaperandWorkingPaperSeries248.pdf
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Paper provided by School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology in its series School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series with number 248.

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Length: 11 pages
Date of creation: 23 Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qut:dpaper:248
Contact details of provider: Postal: GPO Box 2434, BRISBANE QLD 4001
Web page: http://www.bus.qut.edu.au/faculty/economics/
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