DP9299 Not the Opium of the People: Income and Secularization in a Panel of Prussian Counties

Author(s): Sascha O. Becker, Ludger Woessmann
Publication Date: January 2013
Keyword(s): Prussian economic history, Religion, secularization
JEL(s): N33, Z12
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=9299

The interplay between religion and the economy has occupied social scientists for long. We construct a unique panel of income and Protestant church attendance for six waves of up to 175 Prussian counties spanning 1886-1911. The data reveal a marked decline in church attendance coinciding with increasing income. The cross-section also shows a negative association between income and church attendance. But the association disappears in panel analyses, including first- differenced models of the 1886-1911 change, panel models with county and time fixed effects, and panel Granger-causality tests. The results cast doubt on causal interpretations of the religion- economy nexus in Prussian secularization.