Marx vs. Weber: Does Religion Affect Politics and the Economy?

51 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2011

See all articles by Christoph Basten

Christoph Basten

University of Zurich; Swiss Finance Institute; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Frank Betz

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: October 11, 2011

Abstract

We investigate the effect of Reformed Protestantism, relative to Catholicism, on preferences for leisure and for redistribution and intervention in the economy. With a Fuzzy Spatial Regression Discontinuity Design, we exploit a historical quasiexperiment in Western Switzerland, where in the 16th century a so far homogeneous region was split and one part assigned to convert to Protestantism. We find that Reformed Protestantism reduces the fraction of citizens voting for more leisure by 13, and that voting for more redistribution and government intervention by respectively 3 and 11 percentage points. These preferences are found to translate into greater income inequality, but we find no robust effect on average income.

Keywords: Max Weber, culture, protestant work ethic, political preferences, regression discontinuity design

JEL Classification: Z12, D72, H23, N33

Suggested Citation

Basten, Christoph and Betz, Frank, Marx vs. Weber: Does Religion Affect Politics and the Economy? (October 11, 2011). ECB Working Paper No. 1393, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1942198

Christoph Basten (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Swiss Finance Institute

c/o University of Geneva
40 Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1211 Geneva 4
Switzerland

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Frank Betz

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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