DP14963 Weber Revisited: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Nationalism

Author(s): Felix Kersting, Iris Wohnsiedler, Nikolaus Wolf
Publication Date: June 2020
Keyword(s): Max Weber, Nationalism, Protestantism
JEL(s): N13, N33, O16, Z12
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics, Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14963

We revisit Max Weber's hypothesis on the role of Protestantism for economic development. We show that nationalism is crucial to both, the interpretation of Weber's Protestant Ethic and empirical tests thereof. For late nineteenth-century Prussia we reject Weber's suggestion that Protestantism mattered due to an "ascetic compulsion to save". Moreover, we find that income levels, savings, and literacy rates differed between Germans and Poles, not between Protestants and Catholics, using pooled OLS and IV regressions. We suggest that this result is due to anti-Polish discrimination.