Beyond Work Ethic: Religion, Individual and Political Preferences

KOF Working Papers No. 309

44 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2012 Last revised: 18 Sep 2012

See all articles by Christoph Basten

Christoph Basten

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

Frank Betz

European Union - European Investment Bank

Date Written: August 22, 2012

Abstract

We investigate the effect of Reformed Protestantism, relative to Catholicism, on preferences for leisure, and for redistribution and intervention in the economy. We use a Fuzzy Spatial Regression Discontinuity Design to exploit a historical quasi-experiment in Western Switzerland, where in the 16th century a hitherto homogeneous region was split and one part assigned to adopt Protestantism. We find that Reformed Protestantism reduces referenda voting for more leisure by 12, for redistribution by 7, and for government intervention by 6 percentage points. These preferences translate into higher per capita income as well as greater income inequality.

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

JEL Classification: D72, H23, N33, Z12

Suggested Citation

Basten, Christoph and Betz, Frank, Beyond Work Ethic: Religion, Individual and Political Preferences (August 22, 2012). KOF Working Papers No. 309, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2133848 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2133848

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

European Union - European Investment Bank ( email )

98-100 Boulevard Konrad Adenauer
L-2950
Luxembourg

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