Conversionary Protestants Do Not Cause Democracy
23 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2019 Last revised: 2 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 28, 2020
In “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy”, Robert D. Woodberry (2012) claims that the emergence of stable democracies around the world was influenced by conversionary Protestantism. While Woodberry’s historical analysis is exhaustive, the accompanying empirical evidence suffers from severe inconsistencies. We replicate Woodberry’s analysis using 26 alternative democracy measures and extend the time period over which the democracy measures are averaged. These two simple modifications lead to the breakdown of Woodberry’s results. We find no significant relationship between Protestant missions and the development of democracy, which raises concerns about the robustness and broader applicability of Woodberry’s findings. We discuss some alternative explanations for Woodberry’s results which we hope can inform future research on this topic.
Keywords: religion, democracy, economic history, political institutions
JEL Classification: H11, N40, Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation