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Weber Et Le Catholicisme

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This article compares the economically-relevant values of Catholics and Protestants based on

predictions that stem from differences in the theology, church organization and social practice of

the two religions. In particular, it argues that different behaviours and values between

Catholicism and Protestantism fit in with differences in beliefs and in the enforcement

mechanisms that have characterized these two religions since the Reformation. Catholicism

relied on the theology of salvation by works and the role of the Church as intermediary and

enforcement agent. Protestantism, on the other hand, relied on salvation by divine grace and

enforcement through social interactions. Both differences affected a number of factors that

impinge on individual success and how institutions and the economy work. In particular, while

Protestantism favours the emergence of anonymous trade and thus markets, Catholicism is more

conducive to developing personalized trade. From this line of reasoning two hypotheses—

according to which the two religions produced different work and social ethics—and a number

of specific predictions are drawn and then tested on data from the 1998 ISSP survey, which

covers 32 countries, thus making it possible to account for country fixed effects and to purge the

effects of religion from country-level unobserved heterogeneity.

Numerous empirical studies have been carried out on the economic effects of religion

(Iannaccone, 1998). Within the sociology and economics of religion, most works focus on real

variables, trying to explain the relationship between religious traits such as affiliation or

participation and diverse measures of behaviour and achievement at the individual level.

Connections have been found, among others, between religiosity and wages (Chiswick, 1983),

school attendance (Freeman, 1986), health (Ellison, 1991), and criminal behaviour (Evans et al.,

1995). However, it is understandably hard to draw general conclusions from individual

observations within a single country. Cross-country studies have also found connections between

religious characteristics or country background and a variety of country-level economic

characteristics, such as values assumed to be conducive to capitalist development, as well as

historical or recent economic performance. Thus, La Porta et al. (1997) and Inglehart (1999) find

that trust is lower in Catholic countries; Blum and Dudley (2001) estimate that wages increased



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