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Secularization and long-run economic growth

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  • Strulik, Holger

Abstract

This paper integrates a simple theory of identity choice into a framework of endogenous economic growth to explain how secularization can be both cause and consequence of economic development. A secular identity allows an individual to derive more pleasure from consumption than religious individuals, leading secular individuals to work harder and to save more in order to experience this pleasure from consumption. These activities are conducive to economic growth. Higher income makes consumption more affordable and increases the appeal of a secular identity for the next generation. An extension of the basic model investigates the Protestant Reformation as an intermediate stage during the take-off to growth. Another extension introduces intergenerationally dependent religious preferences and demonstrates how a social multiplier amplifies the speed of secularization.

Suggested Citation

  • Strulik, Holger, 2015. "Secularization and long-run economic growth," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 234, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:234
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    1. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:1813-1832 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Strulik, Holger, 2016. "An economic theory of religious belief," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 35-46.
    3. 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.
    4. Sascha O. Becker & Markus Nagler & Ludger Woessmann, 2017. "Education and religious participation: city-level evidence from Germany’s secularization period 1890–1930," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 273-311, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic growth; religion; identity; productivity; secularization; comparative development;

    JEL classification:

    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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