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American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 3 (May 2013)

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Not the Opium of the People: Income and Secularization in a Panel of Prussian Counties

Article Citation

Becker, Sascha O., and Ludger Woessmann. 2013. "Not the Opium of the People: Income and Secularization in a Panel of Prussian Counties." American Economic Review, 103(3): 539-44.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.539

Abstract

The interplay between religion and the economy has long occupied social scientists. We construct a unique panel of income and Protestant church attendance using 175 Prussian counties, presented in six waves from 1886 to 1911. The data reveal a marked decline in church attendance coinciding with increasing income. The cross-section also shows a negative association between income and church attendance. The associations disappear in panel analyses, including first-differenced models of the 1886 to 1911 change, panel models with county and time fixed effects, and panel Granger-causality tests. The results cast doubt on causal interpretations of the religion-economy nexus in Prussian secularization.

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Author Disclosure Statement(s) (218.09 KB) | Online Appendix (394.88 KB) | Download Data Set (82.58 KB)

Authors

Becker, Sascha O. (U Warwick)
Woessmann, Ludger (U Munich)

JEL Classifications

E23: Macroeconomics: Production
N13: Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations: Europe: Pre-1913
N33: Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy: Europe: Pre-1913
N93: Regional and Urban History: Europe: Pre-1913
Z12: Cultural Economics: Religion


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