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Adopting a new religion: The case of Protestantism in 16th Century Germany

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  • Davide Cantoni

Abstract

Using a rich dataset of territories and cities of the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th century, this paper investigates the determinants of adoption and diffusion of Protestantism as a state religion. A territory’s distance to Wittenberg, the city where Martin Luther taught, is a major determinant of adoption. This finding can be explained through a theory of strategic neighbourhood interactions: in an uncertain legal context, introducing the Reformation was a risky enterprise for territorial lords, and had higher prospects of success if powerful neighbouring states committed to the new faith first. The model is tested in a panel dataset featuring the dates of introduction of the Reformation.

Suggested Citation

  • Davide Cantoni, 2011. "Adopting a new religion: The case of Protestantism in 16th Century Germany," Economics Working Papers 1265, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1265
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Timo Boppart & Josef Falkinger & Volker Grossmann & Ulrich Woitek & Gabriela Wüthrich, 2008. "Qualifying Religion: The Role of Plural Identities for Educational Production," CESifo Working Paper Series 2283, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2005. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1331-1370.
    4. Sharun W. Mukand & Dani Rodrik, 2005. "In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation, and Economic Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 374-383, March.
    5. Murat Iyigun, 2008. "Luther and Suleyman," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1465-1494.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jeremiah E. Dittmar & Ralf R. Meisenzahl, 2016. "State Capacity and Public Goods: Institutional Change, Human Capital, and Growth in Early Modern Germany," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2016-028, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Julia Cagé & Valeria Rueda, 2016. "The Long-Term Effects of the Printing Press in Sub-Saharan Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 69-99, July.
    3. İ. Semih Akçomak & Dinand Webbink & Bas Weel, 2016. "Why Did the Netherlands Develop So Early? The Legacy of the Brethren of the Common Life," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(593), pages 821-860, June.
    4. repec:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:1:p:20-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:1813-1832 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Julia Cagé & Valeria Rueda, 2013. "The long Term Effects of the Printing Press in Sub Saharan Africa," Working Papers halshs-00844446, HAL.
    7. Thilo R. Huning & Fabian Wahl, 2016. "You Reap What You Know: Observability of Soil Quality, and Political Fragmentation," Working Papers 0101, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    8. Dittmar, Jeremiah & Meisenzahl, Ralf, 2017. "State Capacity and Public Goods: Institutional Change, Human Capital, and Growth in Historic Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 12037, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Metin M. Cosgel & Matthew Histen & Thomas J. Miceli & Sadullah Yıldırım, 2015. "State and Religion Over Time," Working papers 2015-07, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2016.
    10. Giampaolo Lecce & Laura Ogliari, 2015. "Institutional Transplant and Cultural Proximity: Evidence from Nineteenth-Century Prussia," CESifo Working Paper Series 5652, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Becker, Sascha O. & Pfaff, Steven & Rubin, Jared, 2016. "Causes and consequences of the Protestant Reformation," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1-25.
    12. Jeremy Edwards, 2017. "Did Protestantism Promote Economic Prosperity via Higher Human Capital?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6646, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Adrian Chadi & Matthias Krapf, 2017. "The Protestant Fiscal Ethic: Religious Confession And Euro Skepticism In Germany," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(4), pages 1813-1832, October.
    14. repec:eee:poleco:v:51:y:2018:i:c:p:27-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2017. "Religion and work: Micro evidence from contemporary Germany," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 193-214.
    16. Jeremiah Dittmar & Ralph R. Meisenzahl, 2016. "State Capacity and Public Goods: Institutional change, Human Capital and Growth in Early Modern Germany," CEP Discussion Papers dp1418, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    17. Falck, Oliver & Bauernschuster, Stefan, 2013. "Culture and the Spatial Dissemination of Ideas Evidence from Froebel's Kindergarten Movement," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79704, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Protestantism; State religions; Germany; Spatial adoption of policies;

    JEL classification:

    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • R38 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Government Policy

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