Malthus Meets Luther: The Economics Behind the German Reformation

54 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2016  

Malik Curuk

Tilburg University - Department of Economics

Sjak Smulders

Tilburg University - Center and Faculty of Economics and Business Administration; University of Calgary - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 27, 2016

Abstract

The Reformation provided a powerful source of legitimacy for secularization of governance and enabled the regional authorities to change the institutional structure to eliminate the inefficiencies under the prevailing (Catholic) regime. We investigate this idea in a simple model of regime change and show that the regions where the prevailing institutions are less appropriate, i.e. poorer regions with greater economic potential, should have been more likely to adopt the Reformation. Using detailed data on religious denominations, city characteristics and exogenous measures of agricultural potential, we empirically confirm this hypothesis for the cities in the 16th century Holy Roman Empire. This finding points to an economic rationale of the adoption of Protestantism as a vehicle of institutional change.

Keywords: institutional change, appropriate institutions, Malthusian growth, economics of religion, German Reformation, regional autonomy, agricultural potential, urbanization

JEL Classification: D720, N330, N430, N530, Z120

Suggested Citation

Curuk, Malik and Smulders, Sjak, Malthus Meets Luther: The Economics Behind the German Reformation (July 27, 2016). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2828615

Malik Curuk

Tilburg University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Jacobus (Sjak) A. Smulders (Contact Author)

Tilburg University - Center and Faculty of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands
+31 13 466 2920 (Phone)
+31 13 466 3042 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uvt.nl/webwijs/english/show.html?anr=801585&lang=en

University of Calgary - Department of Economics ( email )

2500 University Drive, NW
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4
Canada

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