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Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History

Sascha O. Becker () and Wößmann, Ludger
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Ludger Woessmann ()

Discussion Papers in Economics from University of Munich, Department of Economics

Abstract: Max Weber attributed the higher economic prosperity of Protestant regions to a Protestant work ethic. We provide an alternative theory, where Protestant economies prospered because instruction in reading the Bible generated the human capital crucial to economic prosperity. County-level data from late 19th-century Prussia reveal that Protestantism was indeed associated not only with higher economic prosperity, but also with better education. We find that Protestants’ higher literacy can account for the whole gap in economic prosperity. Results hold when we exploit the initial concentric dispersion of the Reformation to use distance to Wittenberg as an instrument for Protestantism.

Keywords: Human capital; Protestantism; economic history (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N33 Z12 I20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-edu, nep-his, nep-hpe and nep-ltv
Date: 2007-01
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Related works:
Journal Article: Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History (2009) Downloads
Working Paper: Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History (2007) Downloads
Working Paper: Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History (2007) Downloads
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