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A Time to Print, a Time to Reform*

Lars Boerner, Jared Rubin () and Battista Severgnini ()

Working Papers from Chapman University, Economic Science Institute

Abstract: The public mechanical clock and the movable type printing press were two of the most important and complex general purpose technologies of the late medieval period. We document two of their most important, yet unforeseeable, consequences. First, an instrumental variables analysis indicates that towns that were early adopters of clocks were more likely to also be early adopters of presses. We posit that towns with clocks became upper-tail human capital hubs—both technologies required extensive technical know-how that had many points of overlap. Second, a three-stage instrumental variables analysis indicates that the press influenced the adoption of Lutheranism and Calvinism, while the clock’s effect on the Reformation was indirect (via the press).

Keywords: mechanical clock; printing press; technology; Reformation; human capital; Calvinism; Lutheranism; instrumental variables (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N33 N73 O33 O34 P48 Z12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his
Date: 2019
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