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

  • Davide Cantoni

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.

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File URL: http://www.econ.upf.edu/docs/papers/downloads/1265.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1265.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1265
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 531-596, May.
  2. Sharun Mukand & Dani Rodrik, 2002. "In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation, and Economic Performance," NBER Working Papers 9134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Murat Iyigun, 2008. "Luther and Suleyman," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1465-1494, November.
  4. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2004. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," NBER Working Papers 10438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Timo Boppart & Josef Falkinger & Volker Grossmann & Ulrich Woitek & Gabriela Wüthrich, 2008. "Qualifying Religion: The Role of Plural Identities for Educational Production," IEW - Working Papers 360, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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