Is Max Weber Newly Relevant?: The Protestant-Catholic Divide in Europe Today
Finnish Journal of Theology, Issue 5 (November 2012)
26 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2013
Date Written: 2012
The large economic divisions among nations in Europe that have emerged in the wake of the 2008 and 2009 economic downturn have been commonly described as exhibiting a “north/south” character, the countries in the north being more successful in dealing with the recent adverse events. It is equally true that these divisions exhibit a “Protestant/Catholic” character reflecting the historical dominance of Protestantism in the North and Catholicism in the South. This raises a question of whether the leading causal factor is geography or historic religion. This paper argues that it is implausible in economically more advanced countries such as those of Europe that north/south geography would be such a powerful contemporary influence on economic outcomes. European nations that are historically Protestant, however, still show significant cultural differences – such as levels of trust and corruption – from the European nations that are historically Catholic. The paper concludes that the historically dominant religions of European nations are still playing an important role in determining recent economic outcomes in Europe.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation