Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Protestant work ethic mythology

Recently I read LaurenceIannaccone's [LI] "Introduction to the Economics of Religion." Here's my posting on that 1998 article where I quote his dismantling of the secularization thesis.

Iannaccone also takes a critical look at Max Weber's thesis presented in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism:

1. "Samuelson and Tawney demonstrate that nearly all capitalist institutions emphasized by Weber preceded the Protestant reformation that he viewed as their cause."

2. "As Delacroix (1995) observes, 'Amsterdam's wealth was centered on Catholic families; the economically advanced German Rhineland is more Catholic than Protestant; all-Catholic Belgium was the second country to industrialize, ahead of a good half-dozen Protestant entities.'"

3. "Comparing levels of economic development across the Protestant and Catholic countries of Europe, Delacroix (1992) finds no evidence that one group outperforms the other."

4. "One may reject Weber's thesis about Protestants and Catholics without concluding that all religious traditions are equally conducive to economic growth or capitalist institutions....Kuran (1997) notes that the economic and intellectual development in Islamic countries has lagged that of the West for most of a millennium, an outcome that many scholars trace to Islam's 'static world-view.'"

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