Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Impact of the Reformation on the Economic Development of Western Europe

Sheremeta, Roman and Smith, Vernon (2017): The Impact of the Reformation on the Economic Development of Western Europe.

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Abstract

The Protestant Reformation is a vivid example of how religious transformation could set in motion institutional changes, leading to profound consequences for economic and political development. Although economists and other social scientists agree that there is a strong relation between the Reformation and economic growth, there is an active discussion as to what are the causal pathways connecting Protestantism to long-run economic success. We discuss the causal pathways that received substantial empirical support in academic literature. Some of them, such as “work ethic” and entrepreneurial spirit of Protestants, were originally suggested by Max Weber, while others, such as religious freedom and education, are deeply grounded in economic theory. More recently, other causal pathways have been suggested, such as social ethic, civil society, and institutional changes. We bring our view of these pathways.

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