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Christoph Basten

28 October 2011
We investigate the effect of Reformed Protestantism, relative to Catholicism, on preferences for leisure and for redistribution and intervention in the economy. With a Fuzzy Spatial Regression Discontinuity Design, we exploit a historical quasiexperiment in Western Switzerland, where in the 16th century a so far homogeneous region was split and one part assigned to convert to Protestantism. We find that Reformed Protestantism reduces the fraction of citizens voting for more leisure by 13, and that voting for more redistribution and government intervention by respectively 3 and 11 percentage points. These preferences are found to translate into greater income inequality, but we find no robust effect on average income.
JEL Code
Z12 : Other Special Topics→Cultural Economics, Economic Sociology, Economic Anthropology→Religion
D72 : Microeconomics→Analysis of Collective Decision-Making→Political Processes: Rent-Seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
H23 : Public Economics→Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue→Externalities, Redistributive Effects, Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
N33 : Economic History→Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy→Europe: Pre-1913