Birth and Migration of Scientists: Does Religiosity Matter? Evidence from 19th-Century France
38 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 2021
Can religiosity affect the emergence and migration patterns of scientists? We focus on 19th-century France, a period in which the Catholic Church had embraced a particularly antiscientific attitude, and we exploit variation in intensity of Catholicism. Using data on the places of birth and death of famous individuals from 1790 to 1880, we show that more religious cantons were less likely to give birth to scientists, but religiosity did not play a role for their migration choices. We shed light on the mechanism and suggest that accumulation of scientific human capital earlier in life was key: religious vs. secular secondary education can partly explain the negative relationship between religiosity and the “birth” of scientists. Finally, placebo regressions show that religiosity is not associated with the birth and migration patterns of famous individuals in nonscientific professions—nor is it associated with the emergence of scientific human capital in the pre-1790 period.
Keywords: Religiosity, Scientific Development, Upper-Tail Human Capital
JEL Classification: J24, N13, Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation