Birth and Migration of Scientists: Does Religiosity Matter? Evidence from 19th-Century France

38 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021

See all articles by Giampaolo Lecce

Giampaolo Lecce

University of Groningen - Faculty of Economics and Business

Laura Ogliari

Bocconi University

Mara Squicciarini

Bocconi University

Date Written: April 2021

Abstract

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

Lecce, Giampaolo and Ogliari, Laura and Squicciarini, Mara, Birth and Migration of Scientists: Does Religiosity Matter? Evidence from 19th-Century France (April 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3826136 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3826136

Giampaolo Lecce

University of Groningen - Faculty of Economics and Business ( email )

Postbus 72
9700 AB Groningen
Netherlands

Laura Ogliari (Contact Author)

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, 20136
Italy

Mara Squicciarini

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

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