Knocking on Heaven's Door? Protestantism and Suicide
Sascha O. Becker
University of Warwick; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); Ifo Institute for Economic Research
Ifo Institute for Economic Research; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); University of Munich - Ifo Institute for Economic Research
June 28, 2011
CESifo Working Paper Series No. 3499
We model the effect of Protestant vs. Catholic denomination in an economic theory of suicide, accounting for differences in religious-community integration, views about man’s impact on God’s grace, and the possibility of confessing sins. We test the theory using a unique micro-regional dataset of 452 counties in 19th-century Prussia, when religiousness was still pervasive. Our instrumental-variable model exploits the concentric dispersion of Protestantism around Wittenberg to circumvent selectivity bias. Protestantism had a substantial positive effect on suicide in 1816-21 and 1869-71. We address issues of bias from mental illness, misreporting, weather conditions, within-county heterogeneity, religious concentration, and gender composition.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 46
Keywords: religion, suicide, Prussian economic history
JEL Classification: Z120, N330working papers series
Date posted: June 28, 2011
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