Scholarly article on topic 'Protestants and Catholics: Similar Work Ethic, Different Social Ethic*'

Protestants and Catholics: Similar Work Ethic, Different Social Ethic* Academic research paper on "Political Science"

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Academic research paper on topic "Protestants and Catholics: Similar Work Ethic, Different Social Ethic*"




The Economic Journal, 120 (September), 890-918. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2009.02325.x. © The Author(s).Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2009. Published by Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UKand 350 Main Street, Maiden, MA02148, USA.


Benito Arrunada

This article develops two hypotheses about economically-relevant values of Christian believers, according to which Protestants should work more and more effectively, as in the 'work ethic' argument of Max Weber, or display a stronger 'social ethic' that would lead them to monitor each other's conduct, support political and legal institutions and hold more homogeneous values. Tests using current survey data confirm substantial partial correlations and possible different 'effects' in mutual social control, institutional performance and homogeneity of values but no difference in work ethics. Protestantism therefore seems conducive to capitalist economic development, not by the direct psychological route of the Weberian work ethic but rather by promoting an alternative social ethic that facilitates impersonal trade.

This article compares the economically-relevant values of Catholics and Protestants based on predictions that stem from differences in the theology, church organisation 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 characterised 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 personalised 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

* The author acknowledges the comments received from Doug Allen, Manuel Bagues, Robert Barro, Lee Benham, Albert Carreras, Nuno Garoupa, Dean Lueck, Phillip E. Keefer, Rachel McCleary, Debin Ma, Eduardo Melero, Lewis S. Mudge, Andrew Scott, Paul Zak, Luigi Zingales, three referees and seminar participants at Berkeley, FAES, Harvard, Instituto de Empresa, ISNIE, UAM, UPF and Washington University, as well as the research assistance of Petar Balachev. The usual disclaimers apply. The author acknowledges financial support from the Barcelona GSE Research Network and the Government of Catalonia; the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, through grant ECO2008-01116; and the European Commission, through the Integrated Project 'Reflexive Governance in the Public Interest'. The data utilised were documented and made available by the Zentralarchiv fur Empirische Sozialforschung, University of Cologne, and were collected by independent institutions in each country. Neither the original collectors nor the Zentralarchiv bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretation presented here.

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. Crosscountry 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 more in Protestant European cities between 1500 and 1750; Stulz and Williamson (2003) argue that predominantly Catholic countries tend to offer less protection to lenders because of an alleged Catholic bias against usury; Barro and McCleary (2003, 2006) show that growth relates positively to beliefs and negatively to church attendance, suggesting that the effect of religion depends on efficiency in the production of belief; Inglehart and Norris (2004) confirm that the authority of established religions tends to decrease in wealthy countries. However, studies that use country measurements and averages within a cross-section of countries find it difficult to identify the effects of religion as it is mixed up with other institutional factors.

The methodology of this article is similar to that used by Glaeser and Glendon (1998), Sacerdote and Gleason (2008) and Guiso et al. (2003) in relying on an international collection of survey data at the individual level and controlling for fixed country effects, as well as several personal characteristics. This within-country analysis, by controlling for most potential causes, comes closer to identifying the effects of religion. In fact, with the inclusion of country controls, the effect of religion might be underestimated to the extent that it has become embedded in national traits.

Overall, its findings provide little support for Weber's 'work ethic' hypothesis, whereby Protestants tend to work more and more effectively than Catholics. They support, however, a 'social ethic' hypothesis, as Protestant values shape individuals to be more active in mutual social control, more supportive of institutions, less bound to close circles of family and friends and to hold more homogeneous values.

These results are in line with Glaeser and Glendon (1998) who, after modelling the incentives in Calvinist predestination, confirm empirically that Catholicism and Protestantism associate with different social interactions; and with Guiso et al. (2003), who also find that Catholicism and Protestantism offer pros and cons with respect to economic attitudes. The argument is partly similar to that of Becker and Woessmann (2009), who argue that Protestant regions grew faster because Protestant emphasis on reading the Bible led, as a side effect, to greater investment in literacy and human capital. My argument is also one of side effects but related to the development of a social ethic that favoured market transactions and market-enhancing institutions.1

The present work differs from, and complements, previous works in several important ways. First, some previous works supply heterogeneous empirical correlations between religion and economic performance or attitudes. As a consequence, their findings are hard to evaluate whereas the empirical tests in this article are developed from an

1 Ekelund et al. (2006, pp. 189-231) discuss other possible reasons, such as simpler churches and liturgies, and fewer holidays and pilgrimages, as to why the Protestant Reformation may have affected economic


analytical framework that allows a set of testable hypotheses to be drawn up, painting a more systematic and theoretical picture of the links between alleged causes and effects, which comes closer to examining cultural innovation instead of taking culture as given. Second, the effect of religion is estimated not only on values but also on personal outcomes such as working hours, education and personal success. Third, using data from the 1998 International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) surveys conducted in 1998 and 1999 in 32 countries allows estimation of the effects of religion when strong believers allegedly played a greater role in society.

The rest of the article is structured as follows. Section 1 develops a framework for analysing the economic impact of religions, based on a typology of enforcement systems, applies it to the changes introduced by the Protestant Reformation and defines on this basis two testable hypotheses according to which Protestantism favours a more productive work ethic or a stronger social ethic that leads Protestants to exert greater social control, support the rule of law more and hold more homogeneous values. Section 2 describes the ISSP data, the specific variables employed and the statistical regressions used to test the hypotheses. Section 3 presents and discusses the results, according to which Protestantism promotes values favourable to capitalist relations based on impersonal trade, with no perceptible impact on the work ethic. Section 4 concludes.

1. Analytical Framework

1.1. The Effect of Religion on Enforcement and Growth

In all societies, individual behaviour is constrained by norms and rules that humans define and enforce by different means. Religion is one of these means. To analyse the effects of Christian religions, I distinguish three types of structures according to which party is responsible for enforcing the more or less implicit terms of exchange in a given interaction. Under 'first party' enforcement, the obliged individuals evaluate their own conduct in relation to their own reading of a moral code, a code that includes many economically-relevant preferences, towards effort, thriftiness and so on. In accordance with this evaluation, individuals sanction themselves with some psychological compensation, which in Christianity is related to the idea of 'salvation' and eternal life in heaven. 'Second party' enforcement is based on verification and sanction by the party suffering the consequences of breach. In addition to partners in a standard economic exchange, peers in groups are also second parties to the extent that they exert pressure on non-compliant members through diverse means, from shaming to ostracising or even killing them. Lastly, under 'third party' enforcement, more or less specialised agents, such as political rulers, judges and police forces, verify the behaviour of group members and punish those who do not follow the rules.

Religion obviously influences first party enforcement. For example, relative to the more individualistic pagan views prevalent at the time of the Roman empire, Christianity greatly reinforced first party enforcement by imposing on believers the then novel moral duty of helping their neighbours (Stark, 1996). In this Christian spirit, natural feelings of compassion, which Roman patricians were educated to suppress, were the cornerstone of Adam Smith's moral conception in his Theory of Moral

Sentiments (1759). Less obviously, religion also affects the functioning of second and third party enforcement. In primitive societies, there is even little separation between religious and civil law. In more developed theocratic regimes, religious authorities also take over or dominate political rulers, and there is little or no separation between religious and civil law. Christianity followed a long and tortuous path along these lines. It started as a minority cult whose views conflicted with those that were politically correct at the time but became the State religion in the last centuries of the Roman empire. During the late Middle Ages, and especially on the eve of the Reformation, the Church was not only the monopoly supplier of religious services but also the main provider of educational, legal, bureaucratic and welfare services; it commanded substantial military forces; the papal state constituted a political power in itself; and churchmen were the main political officials all across Europe (Cameron, 1991).

1.2. Comparative Analysis of Christian Moral Enforcements

In this context, the Protestant Reformation radically modified both the contents of moral rules and the enforcement mechanisms of moral and civil rules alike. The Reformation directly affected the three enforcement systems.

First, reformers altered the structure of beliefs on salvation, switching from Catholic salvation by works to salvation by divine grace alone. Following Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904-1905), many writers have considered that this change in beliefs improves economic incentives, especially in the Calvinist version that emphasises predestination but also in the common Protestant focus on ordinary labour and vocation. The argument goes that even though good works do not warrant salvation, they serve as a signal to the believer, who is therefore moved to constant self-examination, with increased moral awareness. Worldly success is also seen as a positive signal when coming from disciplined work and not resulting in excessive consumption. Reformers thus modified the contents of the moral code in some dimensions with two potentially crucial economic consequences: by giving a more positive moral meaning to worldly activities, they encouraged a work ethic that favoured effort; and, by frowning on excessive consumption, they encouraged savings. According to this argument, the consequences to be expected are that both the laity and the clergy will focus on productive activities and abandon unproductive ones. A sort of secular asceticism should develop, in which individuals comply with divine plans by punctually performing their earthly duties.

However, the degree of motivation provided by Protestant theology in Weber's interpretation is open to doubt for a variety of reasons. First, there is a psychological inconsistency in that Protestant believers are saved by God, with good works contributing nothing. Even sixteenth-century reformers soon realised how difficult it was to 'persuade their flocks to be religious, while also teaching that ''good works'' of piety were worthless to earn salvation' (Cameron, 1991, p. 400). Second, Protestant believers could easily deceive themselves when relying on self-examination. In contrast, Catholic enforcement was grounded on confession of sins to a priest, which suffers greater agency costs but offers specialisation advantages (Arrunada, 2009). Third, empirically, predestination may trigger very different responses, as

shown by its role in Islam (Rodinson, 1974). Lastly, Catholicism may have been more hospitable to capitalism, at least originally (Dickens, 1966, pp. 178-9; Berman, 1983, pp. 337-9).

Second, the Reformation dismissed the role of the Church as an intermediary between God and believers, a role that made lay people passive religious subjects. In the Medieval Church, the Bible was interpreted and validated by the Church, and the laity was discouraged from reading it; theologists debated in closed academic circles, not allowing the laity to know about their controversies; and priests had the power to forgive sins in private sacramental confession, thereby ruling on believers' salvation. The reformers minimised this intermediary role of the Church by setting the Bible as the only source, even as the rule according to which to judge the Church; and correspondingly empowering the laity, encouraging them to read the Bible, and holding theological debates in the open.2 They also abolished the old penitential system, eliminating the power of the Church to forgive sins. Most visibly, they eliminated barriers to entry by using the vernacular instead of Latin for liturgy and writing.

This broad empowerment of the laity came with corresponding duties: lay people had to know more and, especially, fill the vacuum left by the disappearance of private confession. These changes should have made lay people abandon their previous passivity, becoming more vigilant of their neighbours' conduct and worrying more about how their own deeds will affect their neighbours' opinions on them. Mutual social control thus avoided the obvious risk that self-examination might result in more lenient standards of conduct. These consequences were more explicit in stricter communities. For example, the Geneva of Calvin adopted many intrusive social controls, such as 'family visitations', by which two elders regularly visited each home to discuss the spiritual health of each family. Another classic account of these practices in mutual control was also given by Weber in his description of American sects (1920).

Third, in contrast to the more independent Catholic Church, reformers were more supportive of political and legal institutions, often because they needed political support in their fight against Catholicism. The Medieval Church had been an international power that held very substantial wealth and limited the power of political rulers, frequently opposing them. Where the Reformation succeeded, most Church property was soon seized by political rulers and the previous Church privileges were removed. Furthermore, lay rulers rapidly asserted their domination of religious affairs. Consequently, many Protestant churches rapidly became appendices of local or national rulers. Moreover, in contrast to the ambivalent support provided by the Catholic Church to political rulers and the nuanced advice the Church gave to the laity for dealing with rulers, reformed churches more flatly affirmed that believers had to obey their rulers, as Luther exhorted very early on (1523). Such concentration of political power may have and often did result in tyranny. However, in a similar fashion to self-control, it also tended to be restrained by more active mutual social control.

2 See Becker and Woessmann (2009) on the consequences of Protestant emphasis on reading the Bible. © The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2009

In addition, the changes introduced by the Reformation also made values more homogeneous among believers. This should lower the transaction costs of impersonal trade, the sort of trade between strangers that has been considered crucial in capitalist economic development at least since North and Thomas (1973), and by authors in different disciplines, such as Granovetter (1985) and Seabright (2004). The two religions provide markedly different setups in this regard.

Primarily, Catholic practice favours more diverse moral standards because of both the contents and its moral code and, mainly, its enforcement mechanisms. With respect to the code, its prioritisation of the family encourages selective charity and reinforces in believers their natural tendency to favour their relatives and possibly friends over strangers. It therefore enhances the use of double standards. With respect to enforcement, both the theology of salvation by works and the practice of private confession of sins to a priest support heterogeneous standards. First, salvation by works involves an element of individual fine-tuning because works cannot be evaluated without considering the possibilities that each individual and moral standards are adjusted to specific circumstances. In fact, medieval theologists had minutely devised prescriptions for each case, developing the body of 'casuistry' literature. Private confession also adjusted moral standards to each individual: priests were trained to adapt the moral code to the strength of the penitent, even negotiating penance with them. In addition, the theology of Purgatory made it possible for merits to be traded amongst believers and with the Church, which reinforced inequality (Arrunada, 2009). The sale of indulgences also caused greater moral disparity among believers, in addition to considerable rent-seeking, as emphasised by Ekelund et al. (1992, 1996, 2002, 2006).

Conversely, greater homogeneity in the moral standards of Protestantism derives from its emphasis on universal charity and its greater reliance on 'external' sources for enforcement, both second parties and legal institutions. First, the Protestant ideal tends to place obligations to strangers on a par with those to family members (McCleary, 2007). Second, compared to the secret judgments of the confessional, reliance on external enforcement is likely to produce more equal treatment, as modelled by Glaeser and Glendon (1998). Examples abound, starting with John Calvin's insistence on treating all believers equally, or the community responsibility system practised by the American sects described by Weber (1920), which is somehow similar to the late medieval system analysed by Greif (2002). In this extreme case, as individuals are liable for the debts of their colleagues, they will insist that they meet the standards of the group, both on admission and later on. Third, more generally, legal enforcement applies the same principle on a larger scale, by providing impartial enforcement of obligations without paying attention to who the parties are and, in particular, regardless of whether they are locals or outsiders.

Summing up, the analysis supports two distinctive hypotheses. The work ethic hypothesis predicts that Protestant believers work harder and more effectively than Catholics. The social ethic hypothesis predicts that Protestants show greater concern for social interactions, in terms of at least social control, rule of law and homogeneity of values.

2. Data and Tests

2.1. Data

The tests rely on several econometric models built with cross-section data from the 1998 religion module of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) Survey. The ISSP is a continuing programme of cross-national collaboration on surveys covering topics of importance for research in the social sciences. The surveys were conducted in 1998 and 1999 (8 countries) in a total of 32 countries, most of them developed countries, with sample sizes between 804 and 2,488, and a total of 39,034 observations. After dropping observations with missing values in the independent variables, 19,246 observations on Protestants and Catholics remain, which are distributed across countries as summarised in Table 1. In each of these national surveys, the questionnaires of the religion module included at least 72 questions about the respondents' feelings (for instance, their

Table 1

Sample Description: Useful Observations Available for Each Country and Religion

Country Protestants (1) Catholics (2) (3) Total = (1) + (2)

% % %

Australia 553 48.47 270 23.66 823 4.28

Germany (West) 330 42.80 301 39.04 631 3.28

Germany (East) 187 24.44 35 4.58 222 1.15

UK 253 42.81 55 9.31 308 1.60

Northern Ireland 325 52.59 232 37.54 557 2.89

USA 574 57.17 272 27.09 846 4.40

Austria 40 5.15 629 80.95 669 3.48

Hungary 168 17.45 523 54.31 691 3.59

Italy 2 0.25 714 89.81 716 3.72

Ireland 43 5.07 763 89.98 806 4.19

Netherlands 264 18.12 266 18.26 530 2.75

Norway 826 83.10 5 0.50 831 4.32

Sweden 568 68.77 7 0.85 575 2.99

Czechia 56 5.43 475 46.07 531 2.76

Slovenia 14 1.80 553 71.17 567 2.95

Poland 0 0.00 724 92.82 724 3.76

Bulgaria 1 0.11 14 1.55 15 0.08

Russia 14 1.32 1 0.09 15 0.08

New Zealand 337 43.21 117 15.00 454 2.36

Canada 158 27.38 199 34.49 357 1.85

Philippines 91 8.20 948 85.41 1,039 5.40

Israel 0 0.00 2 0.18 2 0.01

Japan 20 2.71 0 0.00 20 0.10

Spain 5 0.26 1,640 83.97 1,645 8.55

Latvia 225 23.94 200 21.28 425 2.21

Slovakia 149 13.48 775 70.14 924 4.80

France 18 2.04 405 45.87 423 2.20

Cyprus 0 0.00 13 1.50 13 0.07

Portugal 0 0.00 987 89.32 987 5.13

Chile 275 20.12 1,020 74.62 1,295 6.73

Denmark 857 86.13 1 0.10 858 4.46

Switzerland 332 38.74 415 48.42 747 3.88

Total 6,685 21.92 12,561 41.19 19,246 100.00

happiness), values (tolerance of homosexuality, confidence in parliaments, trust in strangers and so on), religious beliefs (in heaven, in hell etc.) and practice (church attendance), social habits (different volunteer activities) and opinions (government responsibilities) etc.; as well as a full set of demographic variables (sex, marital status, education, earnings, etc.). Detailed explanation of all variables is given in Table A1 in the Appendix.

These surveys have been used in many other studies.3 Using ISSP data instead of the World Values Survey reduces sample size and the number of countries and variables. It provides, however, a more detailed measurement of the intensity of beliefs, which allows me to estimate its impact and to distinguish the fixed effect of 'belonging' to a religion from the variable effect of 'believing' its doctrine more or less strongly.

Table 2 summarises the empirical exercise, in which several tests are used in parallel for each of the predictions. These tests rely on several econometric models examining differences in values and actions between Protestants and Catholics. For simplicity, observations for members of other religions are dropped. In addition, for the Netherlands, data on individual earnings are estimated as the predicted values of an OLS regression of available individual earnings on family income, family size and education level. Family income is also assumed to be income by other family members in the 635 observations for which asserted family income is lower than individual earnings. Lastly, given that the surveys provide highly correlated questions for some issues, only one variable was used in such cases. When the variables are not so heavily correlated, indexes were constructed by using the first principal components of the variables used (Table A2 to Table A3 in the Appendix). Results do not materially change as a consequence of these imputations and simplifications.

2.2. Work Ethic

The work ethic hypothesis will be tested by examining how Protestants and Catholics compare in two indicators:

(1) the number of weekly Working hours, used as a proxy for the willingness to exert effort; and

(2) an index of personal Success, built as the first principal component of four variables (individual earnings standardised within each country, working as a supervisor, being self-employed and each respondent's subjective social class).

The predictions are that, within each country and controlling for demographic variables, Protestants should work more hours and achieve greater success than Catholics. The reason lies in both the emphasis of the Protestant moral code on asceticism and methodical work, and the greater motivation supposedly produced by its theology of salvation.

3 Full information on the ISSP surveys is available at (accessed January 13, 2009), including data and codebooks for the religion 1998 module and a list of the thousands of studies using the ISSP data.


Table 2

Summary of Predictions and Results

Catholics show more (+)

or less (—) of the corresponding indicator

Variables and tests

Proxies used



n 0 z; o

•z >

Work ethic:

Catholics work less and less effectively than Protestants

Social ethic:

Catholics shozu less concern for social interactions than Protestants

Work effort

Earthly achievements

Social control:

Catholics exert less effort in m utual social con trol than Protestants

Rule of law:

Catholics support political and legal institutions less than Protestants

Homogeneous values: Catholics hold less homogeneous values than Protestants

Willingness to work and work effort

Earthly achievements

Willingness to exert effort in social enforcement Different impact of education for Catholics and Protestants Willingness to support

political institutions Willingness to cooperate with the law Confidence in political and

legal institutions Homogeneity of values, level of trust and importance of the family between Protestants and Catholics

Working hours Positive zoorking hours Working hours of

those ïuorking Success index

Involvement in volunteering activities ( Volunteer index) Relationship between Education and : -Trust Church -Religious practice Tolerance of tax fraud

Cover up for frien ds

Trust institutions

Standard deviation of regression residuals Trust strangers Importance of family

n. s. n. s. n. s.

M ►Ö H

2.3. Social Ethic

Predictions of the social ethic hypothesis will be tested in three distinctive areas: social control, rule of law and homogeneous values.

2.3.1. Social control

According to the social ethic hypothesis, Protestants should exert a greater effort in mutual social control than Catholics. This prediction will be examined in three ways. First, by directly testing if Catholics Volunteer less than Protestants. The assumption here is that respondents' volunteering is correlated to their willingness to informally monitor and sanction the behaviour of others. This assumption is plausible because mutual control is another form of unrewarded volunteering. In addition, some volunteer activities act as enforcement mechanisms themselves, because enjoying membership is conditional on complying with a certain pattern of behaviour. Volunteer work is gauged with an index built as the first principal component of four variables measuring volunteering in political, charitable, religious and other activities.

Second, by testing if greater levels of education affect differently for Protestants and Catholics how much confidence people have in the Church and religious organisations (Trust Church). The hypothesis predicts that, whatever the effect of education, it will be smaller or even negative for Catholics, because most reformed churches relinquished some of their functions in moral enforcement, correspondingly empowering individuals and encouraging them to learn. Therefore, substitution between education and church enforcement was accomplished by Protestants centuries ago, while the Catholic Church has retained a more active role in moral enforcement. As a consequence, education should be a complement of religion for Protestants but a substitute for Catholics.

Lastly, by similarly testing if greater levels of education affect Religious practice differently for Catholics and Protestants, where Religious practice is an index built with four variables measuring prayer frequency, participation in church activities, self-description as a religious person and frequency of attendance at religious services. Considering the results in the literature (Iannaccone, 1998, p. 1470), greater education is expected to increase religious participation. However, the prediction concerns only differences between religions - in particular, it predicts that this effect will be significantly smaller for Catholics than for Protestants. The rationale is the same as for confidence in the Church.

2.3.2. Rule of law

In terms of the rule of law, the social ethic hypothesis predicts that Protestants support political and legal institutions more than Catholics. It will be tested by examining how Protestants and Catholics compare with respect to three variables: first, their Tolerance of tax fraud. The fact that taxes are necessary for operating political and legal institutions upholds the notion that less tolerance of tax fraud is related to greater support of such institutions. In addition, the Catholic Church has been relatively lenient with respect to tax fraud, not considering it as a serious sin, perhaps as a remnant of the medieval times when it competed for tax

money with civil rulers. Given the greater support historically given by Protestant churches to political rulers, it is predicted that within each country and also controlling for a full set of demographic variables, Catholics will be more tolerant of tax fraud.

Second, their willingness to Cover up for friends, measured through respondents' reactions to the hypothetical case in which they are riding in a car driven too fast by a close friend who hits a pedestrian, and this friend asks the respondent to tell the police that he was obeying the speed limit. The variable therefore measures individuals' unwillingness to cooperate voluntarily with the legal system and its representatives when this cooperation conflicts with friendship ties. It is assumed to indicate how much support respondents provide to third party enforcement. Also in this case, it is predicted that Catholics will be more willing to cover up for their friends.

Lastly, I examine respondents' confidence in political and legal institutions, measured by the index Trust institutions, which combines confidence in the parliament, the courts and legal system. The logic behind these proxies is straightforward, as Parliament establishes the legal rules and courts enforce them. Our prediction is that Catholics will be less confident of their political and legal institutions.

2.3.3. Homogeneous values

Lastly, the social ethic hypothesis predicts that Protestants hold more homogeneous values than Catholics. It will also be examined in three ways. First, the homogeneity of moral standards within the Protestant and Catholic religion will be directly tested by comparing the residuals of the regressions on values between the two groups, expecting a higher variance among Catholics.

Second, homogeneity of values will be tested indirectly by examining how Protestants and Catholics compare with respect to a measure of interpersonal generalised trust, given by responses to the question, 'Generally speaking, would you say that people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people?' (Trust strangers). This variable is often related to 'social capital' (Putnam, 1993) and is thought to convey trust in strangers (Knack and Keefer, 1997). Its connection to homogeneity is clear if people trust strangers more in homogeneous societies, as argued by Alesina and LaFerrara (2000, 2002), an idea grounded both on social (Tajfel and Turner, 1979) and evolutionary psychology (Trivers, 1971). The prediction is that Catholics would trust strangers less than Protestants.

Complementarily, I finally check the importance individuals give to their family, to examine the argument put forward by Putnam (1993), Fukuyama (1995) and others that there is substitution between the strength of family ties and formal institutions. Lacking direct measures, I use as a proxy the difference in individuals' stated tolerance of heterosexual relations before and after marriage. The prediction is that this index of Importance of family, measured as the gap between tolerance of premarital sex and adultery, will be greater for Catholics.

2.4. Models 2.4.1. Main model

To perform most of these tests, the following equations will be estimated:

Yi = a0 +a.0cCatholic

+^1Faith +p1CCatholic x Faith

+bc2Religious upbringing +fi^CatholicR x Religious upbringing , ,

+b$Education +b§cCatholic x Education

(btControlm variables) +Rr (brCountryn dummies)

where each dependent variable, Yi, represents a value or action, as stated by respondents to the survey, from their weekly working hours to their trust in strangers. Half of the dependent variables are expressed in terms of categories with a natural order. Ordered probit models are estimated in these cases and ordinary least squares are used for the rest. The regressions of Working hours and Positive working hours are tobit and probit models. All equations were estimated using weight adjustments with robust (Huber-White) standard errors. Neither the choice of model nor the use of survey estimation materially affect the results. Independent variables are as follows:

• Catholic is a binary variable that takes value one for respondents who state that they belong to the Catholic religion, zero otherwise. The default category is Protestant.

• Faith is an index measuring the intensity of respondents' faith. Simplicity plus the substantial collinearity among the three belief variables (in the afterlife, heaven and hell) advise using a composite index of belief intensity, built as the first principal component of the three variables.

• Upbringing measures the degree of religious indoctrination that respondents received during their childhood. This is taken directly from a survey question asking respondents how often they attended religious services when they were around 11 or 12 years old.

• Education measures the highest degree of education reached by respondents.

• Interactive variables, built as products of Catholic times Faith, Upbringing and Education, are introduced to test differences in the effects of faith, upbringing and education between the two religions. CatholicR is a dummy that takes value one for those raised as Catholics.

• Control variables were introduced for the sex of respondents, their age and age squared, and their marital status (through three dummies for widows, divorced and separated and single), as well as country dummies.

2.4.2. Fixed and variable effects of religion

Model (1) distinguishes between fixed and variable 'effects' of the two religions on values and behaviour. Fixed effects are related to membership or, more broadly, to 'belonging' to a particular religious group, and do not vary across believers of a given faith. In our case, their coefficients (a0c) estimate the difference between belonging to Catholicism and Protestantism, because observations for other religions have been

dropped. Furthermore, given that Faith, Upbringing and Education have been standardised within the sample, these fixed effects measure attitudes for the average person in the whole sample of Catholics and Protestants (average not only in terms of the demographic controls but also in terms of Faith, Religious upbringing and Education). Their estimates are given in the first row of Table 4.

In addition to these fixed or belonging effects, the two religions provide different structures of beliefs and enforcement that are predicted to lead to different variable effects, meaning in our case that the intensity of belief, the degree of religious upbringing and the degree of education should affect values and actions for Protestants and Catholics differently. In the equations, we take Protestants as the omitted category, estimating Protestant variable effects with coefficients bj, and the differential impact of Catholic Faith, Upbringing and Education with coefficients j with j = 1, 2, 3, respectively. Their estimates are given in the rows corresponding to the interactive variables in Panel (a) of Table 4. In the case of education, estimating variable effects is useful to test the social control hypothesis whereas, for faith and upbringing, estimated variable effects give us a glimpse into the effects that religion may have exerted in the past, when both the intensity of religious belief and the degree of religious indoctrination can be assumed to be greater then they are now in most societies.

Complementarily, the overall effect of 'being Catholic' will be estimated with a simplified version of model (1) in which the variables Faith, Upbringing, Education and their interactions are excluded, such that the new coefficients of the Catholic variable estimate how average Catholics in the sample differ from average Protestants after controlling for demographic and country effects but not for the intensity of their faith, upbringing and education. Estimates of these average effects are given in the first row of Panel (b) in Table 4.

3. Results

Table 3 presents summary statistics of the data used for the analysis. Most differences in means and standard deviations for Protestants and Catholics are consistent with the hypotheses. Table 4 presents the main results, obtained by estimating the effects of the two religions on a variety of values, conducts and facts. Catholicism is represented by a dummy binary variable, with Protestantism as the omitted category. Results for constants, control variables and country dummies are omitted but their use is supported by their statistically significant correlations with the dependent variables and the fact that most control variables show the expected signs. The Table contains two panels. Panel (a) shows the results for models in (1), with variable effects, while Panel (b) presents the average effects obtained with the simplified model.

3.1. The Work Ethic Hypothesis

Results hardly provide any support for the work ethics hypothesis. Despite the fact that on average Protestants work 8.5% more hours and show greater personal success, the significance of these differences disappears after controlling for demographic and

Table 3

Summary Statistics

Variable Obs Mean Std. Dev. Min Max

Catholics and Protestants:

Working hours 17,640 22.335 22.783 0.000 96.000

Positive working hours 19,246 0.583 0.493 0.000 1.000

Working hours of those working 9,614 40.981 13.721 1.000 96.000

Success index 12,893 0.000 1.000 -1.743 13.297

Volunteer index 18,521 0.000 1.000 -0.642 5.038

Trust Church 18,654 3.224 1.097 1.000 5.000

Religious practice index 18,553 0.000 1.000 -2.099 2.247

Tolerance of tax fraud 18,666 2.005 0.909 1.000 4.000

Cover up for friends 16,469 1.871 0.867 1.000 4.000

Trust institutions 18,046 0.000 1.000 -2.037 2.523

Trust strangers 18,869 2.319 0.794 1.000 4.000

Importance of family 18,158 1.503 1.209 -3.000 3.000

Catholic 19,246 0.653 0.476 0.000 1.000

Faith 19,246 0.000 1.000 -1.742 1.261

Religious upbringing 19,246 0.000 1.000 -2.155 1.205

Education 19,246 0.000 1.000 -2.376 1.794

Women 19,246 0.557 0.497 0.000 1.000

Age 19,246 0.000 1.000 -1.752 2.820

Age squared 19,246 0.000 1.000 -1.286 3.877

Widowed 19,246 0.093 0.291 0.000 1.000

Divorced & separated 19,246 0.065 0.247 0.000 1.000

Single 19,246 0.215 0.411 0.000 1.000


Working hours 5,803 23.691 21.790 0.000 96.000

Positive working hours 6,685 0.658 0.474 0.000 1.000

Working hours of those working 3,520 39.057 13.510 1.000 96.000

Success index 3,876 0.165 1.042 -1.743 5.325

Volunteer index 6,254 0.142 1.067 -0.642 5.038

Trust Church 6,408 3.114 1.049 1.000 5.000

Religious practice index 6,348 -0.243 1.084 -2.099 2.247

Tolerance of tax fraud 6,504 1.952 0.852 1.000 4.000

Cover up for friends 5,708 1.852 0.767 1.000 4.000

Trust institutions 6,360 0.109 0.954 -2.037 2.523

Trust strangers 6,535 2.532 0.759 1.000 4.000

Importance of family 6,392 1.643 1.169 -3.000 3.000

Catholic 6,685 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000

Faith 6,685 -0.181 1.033 -1.742 1.261

Religious upbringing 6,685 -0.498 1.070 -2.155 1.205

Education 6,685 0.171 0.946 -2.376 1.794

Women 6,685 0.552 0.497 0.000 1.000

Age 6,685 0.055 1.000 -1.752 2.820

Age squared 6,685 0.053 1.016 -1.286 3.877

Widowed 6,685 0.091 0.288 0.000 1.000

Divorced &separated 6,685 0.082 0.275 0.000 1.000

Single 6,685 0.211 0.408 0.000 1.000


Working hours 11,837 21.670 23.227 0.000 96.000

Positive working hours 12,561 0.543 0.498 0.000 1.000

Working hours of those working 6,094 42.093 13.720 2.000 96.000

Success index 9,017 -0.071 0.973 -1.743 13.297

Volunteer index 12,267 -0.072 0.956 -0.642 5.038

Trust Church 12,246 3.282 1.117 1.000 5.000

Religious practice index 12,205 0.126 0.929 -2.099 2.247

Tolerance of tax fraud 12,162 2.033 0.937 1.000 4.000

Table 3


Variable Obs Mean Std. Dev. Min Max

Cover up for friends 10,761 1.881 0.916 1.000 4.000

Trust institutions 11,686 -0.060 1.019 -2.037 2.523

Trust strangers 12,334 2.206 0.789 1.000 4.000

Importance of family 11,766 1.426 1.224 -3.000 3.000

Catholic 12,561 1.000 0.000 1.000 1.000

Faith 12,561 0.096 0.969 -1.742 1.261

Religious upbringing 12,561 0.265 0.849 -2.155 1.205

Education 12,561 -0.091 1.016 -2.376 1.794

Women 12,561 0.559 0.496 0.000 1.000

Age 12,561 -0.029 0.999 -1.752 2.820

Age squared 12,561 -0.028 0.990 -1.286 3.877

Widowed 12,561 0.094 0.292 0.000 1.000

Divorced & separated 12,561 0.056 0.230 0.000 1.000

Single 12,561 0.217 0.412 0.000 1.000

country effects according to the non-significant coefficients of fixed effects in Table 4, both for the standard person in the sample (panel a) and for the standard member of each religion (panel b).

Results on working hours, a variable that measures working time at all jobs, but not time worked at home, are slightly ambiguous with respect to the differential effects of the intensity of religious belief and upbringing between Catholics and Protestants. As shown in panel (a), for Catholics, stronger faith and religious upbringing are associated with fewer working hours (column 1). However, this result seems to be driven by the fact that the only working hours considered are those worked in jobs. Catholics are indeed less likely to report positive working hours (column 2). However, for those Catholics with positive working hours, belief intensity is associated with a greater number of working hours (column 3), a result driven fully by Catholic women. Overall, the results seem to reflect a difference between the two religions as to occupational patterns, which cannot be fully clarified without knowing how many hours the two types of respondents work outside their jobs. With the data available, the observed difference - which refers only to the effect of faith and upbringing - cannot be ascribed to a differential willingness to exert effort. It seems more likely to respond or at least be heavily influenced by different priorities in allocating time between the family and the outside world, an interpretation that fits in well with the greater importance that Catholics grant to the family (Section 3.2.3).

Results for personal success are even clearer, with no significant differences being observed when controlling for demographic and country variables, neither in the fixed effect of belonging to a religion nor in the variable effects of religious belief intensity or upbringing.

3.2. The Social Ethic Hypothesis 3.2.1. Social control

Results confirm the three social control predictions. First, average Catholics not only volunteer work significantly less than Protestants (on average, about 0.159 standard

Table 4

Religious Determinants of Economic Values (Omitted Category: Protestants)

Hypotheses with corresponding dependent variables (units in parentheses)—estimated equations in columns

Social ethic hypothesis

Work ethic hypothesis Social control Rule of law Homogeneous values

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Working Working Working hours Success Volunteer Trust Religious Tolerance of Cover up Trust Trust Family

hours hours > 0 of workers Church practice tax fraud for friends institutions strangers importance ►Ö

(hours per (positive reported (hours per week (standard (standard (responses (standard (responses (responses (standard (responses (differences in r\

week) working hours) of those with deviation deviation on a 1-5 deviation on a 1-4 on a 14: deviation on a 1 1 scale) responses on w

positive working of index) of index) scale) of index) scale) scale) of index) a -3 to 3 scale) M

hours) C«

(a) Differences between Catholics and Protestants (regressions with variable effects) : >

Catholic -0.438 -0.014 0.033 -0.012 -0.190*** 0.016 -0.034* 0.117*** 0.087*** -0.012 -0.061** 0.111*** z;

(0.791) (0.035) (0.445) (0.027) (0.023) (0.026) (0.018) (0.026) (0.027) (0.022) (0.025) (0.026) H

Faith 0.837* 0.067*** -0.445* -0.006 0.207*** 0.391*** 0.580*** -0.096*** -0.099*** 0.057*** 0.025 -0.230*** cn

(0.456) (0.023) (0.256) (0.016) (0.015) (0.016) (0.012) (0.015) (0.016) (0.013) (0.015) (0.016) >

Religious 0.129 -0.004 0.035 -0.013 0.132*** 0.155*** 0.248*** -0.071*** -0.057*** 0.045*** 0.022 -0.069*** z;

u/tbringing (0.451) (0.022) (0.248) (0.016) (0.013) (0.016) (0.011) (0.015) (0.015) (0.013) (0.016) (0.016) ö

Education 4 044*** 0.219*** 0.746*** 0.445*** 0.145*** 0.074*** 0.108*** -0.098*** 0.026* 0.134*** 0.165*** -0.075*** n

(0.436) (0.023) (0.245) (0.016) (0.015) (0.014) (0.010) (0.015) (0.015) (0.013) (0.015) (0.015) >

Catholic X Faith -2.153*** -0.131*** 0.649** -0.000 -0.103*** 0.048** -0.167*** 0.036* 0.037* 0.048*** 0.021 0.121*** H

(0.571) (0.027) (0.316) (0.018) (0.017) (0.019) (0.014) (0.020) (0.021) (0.017) (0.019) (0.020) ffi

CatholicR X -1.651*** -0.040 -0.374 0.008 -0.054*** 0.055*** 0.048*** 0.024 -0.006 0.011 0.009 0.060*** 0

Religious (0.591) (0.028) (0.320) (0.019) (0.016) (0.021) (0.014) (0.020) (0.021) (0.018) (0.020) (0.021) r

u/tbringing f^

Education 0.067 -0.035 -0.821*** -0.024 -0.018 -0.164*** -0.091*** 0.072*** 0.014 -0.082*** -0.009 0.104*** cn

(0.553) (0.028) (0.312) (0.019) (0.017) (0.018) (0.012) (0.018) (0.019) (0.016) (0.018) (0.018)

Observations 17.640 18.233 9.614 12.893 18.521 18.654 18.553 18.666 16.469 18.046 18.869 18.158

F 80.20 38.97 121.01 49.44 204.23 564.95 28.40 28.85 70.78 61.70 70.13

(b) Average diffe: fences between Catholics and Protestants (regressions without variable effects):

Catholic -0.723 -0.030 -0.192 -0.031 -0.159*** 0.094*** 0.078*** 0.101*** 0.067** 0.007 -0.047* 0.110***

(0.762) (0.035) (0.428) (0.029) (0.024) (0.024) (0.022) (0.025) (0.027) (0.021) (0.025) (0.025)

Observations 17.640 18.233 9.614 12.893 18.521 18.654 18.553 18.666 16.469 18.046 18.869 18.158

F 89.80 45.37 70.08 39.08 304.39 174.11 30.07 30.32 72.57 63.66 78.27

Source. ISSP (1998).

Notes. All models (in columns) estimated with constants and demographic and country controls, whose coefficients are not reported in the Table. Equation 1. tobit: equation 2. probit: equations 3. 4. 5. 7 and 10. OLS: all others, ordered probit: survey estimation in all cases. * ** *** Significant at 10. 5 and 1. Robust standard errors in parentheses. ^

Table 5

Comparison of Residual Heterogeneity between Catholics and Protestants (Standard Deviations of OLS Regression Errors)

Variable Protestants Catholics Difference Difference ( in %)

Working hours 17.362 19.486 —2 124*** -12.23

Positive working hours 0.373 0.412 -0.039*** -10.41

Working hours of those working 20.079 21.781 — 1 701*** -8.47

Success index 0.875 0.819 0.056*** 6.35

Volunteer 0.976 0.904 0.071*** 7.32

Trust Church 0.929 0.966 -0.037*** -4.01

Religious practice 0.712 0.690 0.022 3.11

Tolerance of tax fraud 0.822 0.901 -0.079*** -9.69

Cover up for friends 0.734 0.881 0.147*** -20.09

Trust institutions 0.891 0.941 -0.050*** -5.59

Trust strangers 0.701 0.747 -0.046*** -6.62

Importance of family 1.048 1.124 -0.076*** -7.20

Source. ISSP (1998).

Notes. Calculated from residuals in OLS regressions with the same independent variables as in Panel A of 0. **,*** Significant at 5 and 1%, using the Levene (1960) robust test for equality of variances.

deviations) but volunteering increases with faith and upbringing less than half for Catholics than what it does for Protestants. Catholic values are thus more weakly linked to volunteering and therefore are allegedly less conducive to mutual control, to the extent that mutual control relies on volunteer enforcement work and many organisations based on volunteer work also act as enforcement devices by, for example, screening access to social networks.

Second, the data show an acute contrast in the relationship between education and confidence in churches and religious organisations: better-educated Protestants trust them more whereas better-educated Catholics trust them less (from a rate of 0.074 standard deviations of trust for each deviation in education for Protestants to —0.090 deviations for Catholics). Catholics also show more confidence in their Church, and their confidence increases with their faith and religious upbringing. However, greater confidence can be interpreted in different ways.

Third, education has a similarly contrasting effect on religious practice because, even if in this case education has for Catholics a slightly positive instead of a negative effect, this attenuation probably is at least partly driven by the likely presence of a social element in the demand for religious practice, as argued by Sacerdote and Glaeser (2008).

These contrasting effects of education support the idea that for Protestants education complements religion whereas for Catholics education substitutes for religion. It therefore seems that the Catholic Church is less in tune with its more educated laity, possibly due to the greater role the Catholic Church plays as an enforcer, which conflicts more with educated laity.

3.2.2. Rule oof law

Results clearly confirm two of the three predictions according to which Protestants support political and legal institutions more than Catholics.

First, Catholics are significantly more tolerant of tax fraud than Protestants, in line with Guiso et al. (2003). Furthermore, even if strong Catholic beliefs are associated with less tolerance of tax fraud, this association is about a third weaker than among Protestants. The result therefore confirms that, as predicted, Catholic values are less supportive of those political and legal institutions that are financed with taxation.

Second, Catholics are also more willing to cover up for their delinquent friends in dealings with the police and strong Catholic beliefs have a similarly positive but weaker effect. This result confirms that Catholic values elicit less cooperation from citizens in the functioning of legal institutions when they conflict with smaller social circles, such as the ones defined by friendship ties.

Third, no significant differences are observed between Protestants and Catholics with respect to their confidence in political and legal institutions, measured through the index of Trust institutions. Strong Catholic believers even show more confidence than strong Protestant believers, with Catholic faith showing almost twice the effect of Protestant faith, in line with Guiso et al. (2003), who find Catholics trust both the Government and the legal system more than Protestants.

The results for this third proxy of institutional support might be reconciled with those for the two other proxies by considering that citizens' uncritical confidence in political and legal institutions does not improve the functioning of these institutions. According to this argument, by empowering individuals, Protestantism has ended up encouraging a relatively more sceptical view on institutions and not only on the institutionalised Church. Protestants are more willing to contribute to the public good by punishing tax fraud socially, denouncing misbehaviour even at the cost of losing friends and holding a sceptical view of institutions.

This interpretation emphasises the empowerment of individuals which was used mainly to justify the social control hypothesis, and therefore reinforces the social control hypothesis to the detriment of the rule of law hypothesis, grounded on the direct political prescriptions of Protestant churches.

3.2.3. Homogeneous values

Different versions of our two tests confirm that Protestants hold more homogeneous values than Catholics.

First, most standard deviations are significantly smaller for the Protestant sub-sample, both in the original data (Table 3) and, more revealingly, in the residuals of the regressions (Table 5). This greater homogeneity should reduce the exchange costs faced by members of the more homogeneous group, both within and outside the group, by easing coordination tasks. This effect on coordination would be enhanced by the fact that such homogeneity is present in all unobservable variables, while the only significant exceptions (personal success and volunteer work) are easy to observe and, therefore, are of lesser consequence for trade. This result is reaffirmed when comparing the standard deviations of residuals obtained in regressions of the unobservable on all observable variables (as done in Table A7 in the Annex).

Both religions may thus be suitable for supporting human interaction in different kinds of environment and transaction. In comparison with the more homogeneous

Protestant ethic, the more diverse Catholic moral standards may increase transaction costs in impersonal trading but also make personal trade easier, by adapting moral incentives better to the diverse situations faced by believers. These well-adapted incentives and standards probably perform better than more general solutions in the self-control sphere. This is so because, when parties know each other, they can use additional information when transacting. This is more likely to happen in rural environments and, more generally, for friends and family-related interactions. With its relatively more homogeneous standards, Protestantism seems, however, better adapted for impersonal trading between anonymous parties, such as those in commerce, finance and industry, a conclusion in line with that of Blum and Dudley (2001).

Second, average Catholics trust strangers less, confirming the findings of Guiso et al. (2003) with individual data, the cross-country results of La Porta et al. (1997) and Inglehart (1999) and the prediction of Putnam (1993), even though no differences between Catholics and Protestants are observed with respect to how their intensity of religious beliefs or upbringing affect their trust in strangers. It also remains an open question to what extent this greater trust might result from greater homogeneity. However, whatever its origins, greater trust would have important economic consequences, given its role in conforming initial expectations that are crucial in making cooperative strategies viable in repeated games, for instance when implementing a 'tit for tat' strategy, and the correlation established between trust and economic growth (Knack and Keefer, 1997; Zak and Knack, 2001).

Third, Catholics not only give more importance than Protestants to family ties but Catholic beliefs and upbringing are also positively related to the proxy of family importance, which is in line with the argument of Putnam (1993). This greater importance of the family tallies with the propensity shown by Catholics to take occupational choices that favour 'production' within the family and might hinder the functioning of institutions, for example through nepotism. When adding the greater proclivity of Catholics to cover up for their friends and their lesser trust in strangers, the 'social ethic' of Catholicism seems to favour personal exchange to the detriment of impersonal exchange.

3.3. Discussion

These results suffer several limitations. First of all, finding significant correlations does not necessarily imply causation. It is possible that hidden variables may be affecting both the religiosity and other values. The analysis attenuates this problem by relying on within-country variation and by estimating fixed and variable effects, as it can be assumed that the fixed effects are relatively more exogenous. In addition, as argued by Guiso et al. (2003, 2006), the significance of the religious upbringing variable supports the notion that causality runs from religion to values.

Second, the data are built from statements on values instead of observations on actual behaviour. Given the nature of some of the questions (for example, whether one tolerates tax fraud), one should expect some bias caused by a certain tendency to lie because of 'political correctness'. However, given that the analysis here focuses

on differences between Catholics and Protestants, this bias should matter only to the extent that the proclivity to lying varies systematically between both religions.

Third, many of these tests use values to test hypotheses about actions. Some support for this approximation is given by empirical tests showing that, when responding on values, people tend to convey information on their own predispositions. For instance, self-reported trust has also been shown to be a good proxy of trustworthiness actions in an experimental setting (Glaeser et al., 2000).

Fourth, given that these results have been obtained with current data, it could be claimed that the two theologies of salvation in Catholicism and Protestantism did provide different work ethics effects in the past but these differential effects have now disappeared. Such dilution of differences seems unlikely, however, when considering that social norms change slowly; therefore, current values may inform us on the effects of past values. As Glaeser and Glendon put it, 'current social norms may still be the legacy of prior religious beliefs' (1998, p. 431). Moreover, if we take the differential effects of intense beliefs as a proxy for the differential effects that both religions may have had in a more religious past, the estimates lend more support to the social ethic than to the work ethic hypothesis. Even the differences observed in working hours seem to reflect occupational choices that are more consistent with the social ethic hypothesis.

Lastly, large sample size tends to lead to statistical significance even with slight substantive effects. However, in this case, when evaluating substantive significance, it must be remembered that the effects of religions are underestimated because only within-country variation is considered. Much of the influence that religion has exerted throughout history has been through changes in the fabric of different societies. This effect is embodied here in the country dummy variables. This ensures that observed differences are not wrongly attributed to religion but it also reduces the apparent explanatory power of religion. The overall consistency of results, both internal - between the battery of variables used in the article - and external - with respect to those in the literature - also rules out the possibility that they might be driven by mere chance, in the spirit of Meehl (1978).

4. Concluding Remarks

Overall, the article finds little support in survey data on currently held values for Weber's 'work ethic' hypothesis in 'The Protestant Ethic', by which Protestants would tend to work harder and more efficiently than Catholics. It finds substantial support, however, for an alternative 'social ethic' argument, as Protestant values are shown to shape a type of individual who exerts greater effort in mutual social control, supports institutions more and more critically, is less bound to close circles of family and friends and also holds more homogeneous values. In Weberian terms, the data are therefore more supportive of Weber's view in 'The Protestant Sects', with its emphasis on mutual social control.

In line with these results, the economic contribution of the Protestant Reformation would have been connected not to the psychology of individuals regarding economic activity but to their empowerment as citizens vis-a-vis other citizens, the community and the State, affecting the relative effectiveness of alternative enforcement systems. The

consequences for economic growth and the development of Capitalism would be related, first, to the greater effort that individuals are willing to exert in informal social enforcement; second, to the contribution that having more independent individuals makes to the design and functioning of political and legal institutions; and, lastly, to the greater homogeneity of values among individuals. All these features work in favour of anonymous markets, as they facilitate legal enforcement and reduce the cost of impersonal exchange.


Table A1

Description of Variables

Survey question

Original name (US version when there Data transformations and

Variable name in ISSP 1998 are variations) meaning of variables



Working hours v213rhoursworkedweekly Hours worked weekly (How Observations omitted if

many hours did you work hours = 0

last week, how many hours Hours worked / week

do you usually work a

week, at all jobs?)

Success Index Built with the scores of first Standardised

principal component

from variables v211, v214,

v215 (Earnings) and v219

(details in next rows and


v211rselfemployedi In your (main) job are you Binary

an employee or self-


v214rsupervisei In your main job, do you Idem.

supervise anyone or are

you directly responsible

for the work of other


v215rearningsi Respondent's earnings Standardised within

(from all jobs in 1997 each country

before taxes or other

deductions in $)

v219rsubjectivesocialclass Subjective social class Binary

(If you were asked to use

one of four names for

your social class, which

would you say you belong

to: the lower, the working,

the middle, or the upper


Volunteer Index Built with the scores of first Standardised

principal component

from variables v32 to v35

(details in next rows and



Table A1


Survey question Data transformations

Original name (US version when there and meaning of

Variable name in ISSP 1998 are variations) variables

v32volunteerworkpoliticalactivit During the last 12 months did you do volunteer work in any of the following areas: Political activities (helping political parties, political movements, election campaigns, etc.) Amount of work

v33volunteerworkcharitableactivi Idem. Charitable activities (helping the sick, elderly, poor, etc.) Idem.

v34volunteerworkreligiousactivit Idem: Religious and church-related activities (helping churches and religious groups) Idem.

v35anyotherkindofvolunteerwork Idem: Any other kind of voluntary activities Idem.

Religious practice Index Built with the scores of first principal component from variables v58, v59, v60 and v218 (details in next rows and Annex) Standardised

v58abouthowoftendoyoupray About how often do you pray? Frequency

v59howoftentakepartinchurchactiv How often do you take part in the activities or organisations of a church or a place of worship, other than attending services? Frequency

v60rdescribeselfasreligious Would you describe yourself as extremely religious / very religious / somewhat religious / neither religious nor non-religious / somewhat non-religious / very non-religious / extremely non-religious? Recoded for the variable to increase with religiosity

v218rreliggiousserviceshowoften Church attendance: How often do you attend religious services? Frequency of attendance

Trust Church v22confidenceinchurches+religorg? Confidence in: Churches and religious organisations Recoded for the variable to increase with confidence

Table A1


Survey question Data transformations

Original name (US version when there and meaning of

Variable name in ISSP 1998 are variations) variables

Tolerance of tax fraud v16taxpayernotreportincomelesstax

Cover up for friends v63rsdecisioninthissituation

Trust institutions

Trust strangers




Do you feel it is wrong or not wrong if a taxpayer does not report all of his or her income in order to pay less income taxes?

Suppose you were riding in a car driven

by a close friend. You know he is going too fast. He hits a pedestrian. He asks you to tell the police that he was obeying the speed limit... (b) What would you do in this situation? (Possible answers: Definitely / Probably tell the police that your friend was / was not going faster than the speed limit)

Built with the scores of first principal component from variables v20 and v23 (details in next rows and Annex)

How much confidence do you have in respondent's country's Parliament? (use national legislature, e.g. U.S. Congress)

Idem in courts and the legal system?

Generally speaking, would you say that people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people? (Possible answers: People can almost always / usually be trusted, You usually / always can't be too careful in dealing with people)

Recoded for the variable to increase with tolerance

Stated cover up


Recoded for the variable to increase with confidence

Recoded for the variable to increase with the level of trust

Table A1


Survey question Data transformations

Original name (US version when there and meaning of

Variable name in ISSP 1998 are variations) variables

Importance of Index Built as difference

family between individual

tolerance of

premarital sex and

adultery (details in

next rows)

v7sexualrelationsbeforemarriage? Do you think it is wrong Tolerance

or not wrong if a man

and a woman have

sexual relations before


v8sexualrelationswothersthanspouse Do you think it is wrong Tolerance

or not wrong for a

married person having

sexual relations with

someone other than his

or her husband or wife?

Independent variables:

Catholic v217rreligiousdenomination Religious denomination: Binary variable: = 1,

Which religious group if Catholic, = 0,

do you belong to? otherwise.. Greek

(What is your religious Catholics

preference? Do you considered as

regard yourself as Catholic

belonging to any

particular religion?)

CatholicR v53religionrespondentwasraisedin What religion, if any, Binary variable: = 1, if

were you raised in? raised as Catholic; = 0,

Was it Protestant, otherwise. Greek

Catholic, Jewish, some Catholics considered

other religion, or no as Catholic


Faith Index Built with the scores of Standardised

first principal

component from

variables v39 to v41

(details in next rows

and Annex)

v39rbelieveinlifeafterdeath Do you believe in life Recoded for the

after death? variable to increase

with the strength of

belief. Australian data

recoded for


v40rbelieveinheaven Do you believe in Idem.


v41rbelieveinhell Do you believe in hell? Idem.

Upbringing v57rage1112yrshowoftenattendchur How often did you Frequency of

attend religious attendance,

services when you were standardised

around 11 or 12?


Table A1


Variable name Original name in ISSP 1998 Survey question (US version when there are variations) Data transformations and meaning of variables

Education v205reducationiicategories Education II: Categories (What is the highest degree?) Standardised

Control variables: Women v200rsex Sex of respondent Recoded: 1, if female; 0, male

Age v201rage Age of respondent Years of age, standardised

Age Squared v201rage Age of respondent Years of age, squared and standardised

Widowed v202rmaritalstatus Marital status: widowed Binary variable

Divorced & Separated v202rmaritalstatus Marital status: divorced or separated Idem.

Single v202rmaritalstatus Marital status: never married, not married, single ('living as married' computed as married) Idem.

Note. Additional information on the ISSP survey and codebook available at (accessed January 13, 2009).

Table A2

Principal Component Analysis Used to Build the Success Index

Component Eigenvalue Difference Proportion Cumulative

1 1.59942 0.58595 0.3999 0.3999

3 0.77298 0.15885 0.1932 0.8465

4 0.61413 0.1535 1.0000

Eigenvecto rs

Variable 1 2 3 4

v215rearningsi 0.61486 -0.00768 -0.28992 -0.73337

v211rselfemployedi 0.23739 0.86632 0.43917 0.01634

v214rsupervisei 0.60110 0.04004 -0.42895 0.67312

v219rsubjectivesocialclass 0.45197 -0.49782 0.73422 0.09389

Scoring Coefficients

Variable 1

v215rearningsi 0.61486

v211rselfemployedi 0.23739

v214rsupervisei 0.60110

v219rsubjectivesocialclass 0.45197

Table A3

Principal Component Analysis Used to Build the Volunteer Index

Component Eigenvalue Difference Proportion Cumulative

1 1.83282 0.95133 0.4582 0.4582

2 0.88149 0.14555 0.2204 0.6786

3 0.73593 0.18617 0.1840 0.8626

4 0.54976 0.1374 1.0000


Variable 1 2 3 4

v32volunteerworkpoliticalactivit 0.35444 0.93141 -0.08257 0.00486

v33volunteerworkcharitableactivi 0.57638 -0.23154 -0.18256 -0.76213

v34volunteerworkreligiousactivit 0.54374 -0.25569 -0.51417 0.61205

v35anyotherkindofvolunteerwork 0.49650 -0.11611 0.83396 0.21100

Scoring Coefficients

Variable 1

v32volunteerworkpoliticalactivit 0.35444

v33volunteerworkcharitableactivi 0.57638

v34volunteerworkreligiousactivit 0.54374

v35anyotherkindofvolunteerwork 0.49650

Table A4

Principal Component Analysis Used to Build the Trust Institutions Index

Component Eigenvalue Difference Proportion Cumulative

1 2 1.44945 0.55055 0.89890 0.7247 0.2753 0.7247 1.0000


Variable 1 2

v20howmuchconfidenceinparliament v23confidenceincourtslegalsystem 0.70711 0.70711 0.70711 -0.70711

Scoring Coefficients

Variable 1

v20howmuchconfidenceinparliament v23confidenceincourtslegalsystem 0.70711 0.70711

Table A5

Principal Component Analysis Used to Build the Religious Practice Index

Component Eigenvalue Difference Proportion Cumulative

1 2.53704 1.86219 0.6343 0.6343

2 0.67485 0.23244 0.1687 0.8030

3 0.44242 0.09673 0.1106 0.9136

4 0.34569 0.0864 1.0000


Variable 1 2 3 4

v58abouthowoftendoyoupray 0.52696 -0.32697 -0.33115 0.71116

v59howoftentakepartinchurchactiv 0.43722 0.83146 0.28472 0.19089

véOrdescribeselfasreligious 0.49695 -0.44558 0.70291 -0.24579

v218rreligiousserviceshowoften 0.53310 0.05665 -0.56142 -0.63040

Scoring Coefficients

Variable 1

v58abouthowoftendoyoupray 0.52696

v59howoftentakepartinchurchactiv 0.43722

véOrdescribeselfasreligious 0.49695

v218rreligiousserviceshowoften 0.53310

Table A6

Principal Component Analysis Used to Build the Faith Index

Component Eigenvalue Difference Proportion Cumulative

1 2.38206 1.97387 0.7940 0.7940

2 0.40820 0.19846 0.1361 0.9301

3 0.20974 0.0699 1.0000

Eigenvecto rs

Variable 1 2 3

v39rbelieveinlifeafterdeath 0.55420 0.78745 0.26980

v4Orbelieveinheaven 0.60133 -0.15464 -0.78389

v41rbelieveinhell 0.57555 -0.59667 0.55922

Scoring Coefficients

Variable 1

v39rbelieveinlifeafterdeath 0.55420

v4Orbelieveinheaven 0.60133

v41rbelieveinhell 0.57555


Table A7

Comparison of Residual Heterogeneity between Catholics and Protestants (Standard Deviations of OLS Regression Errors in Unobservable Variables)

Variable Protestants Catholics Difference Difference (in %)

Trust Church 0.916 0.944 -0.028*** -3.02

Tolerance of tax fraud 0.838 0.901 -0.063*** -7.48

Cover up for friends 0.726 0.874 -0.148*** -20.44

Trust institutions 0.891 0.940 -0.049*** -5.48

Trust strangers 0.692 0.742 -0.050*** -7.27

Importance of family 1.004 1.122 -0.118*** -11.78

Faith 0.698 0.783 -0.085*** -12.25

Religious upbringing 0.814 0.740 0.074*** 9.07

Source. ISSP (1998).

Notes. Calculated from residuals of regressions of unobservable variables (Trust Church, Tolerance of tax fraud, Cover up for friends, Trust institutions, Trust strangers, Faith and Religious upbringing) on observable variables (demographic and country controls plus Catholic, Education, Catholic x Education, Working hours, Positive working hours, Earnings, Volunteer and Religious practice).

*** Significant at 5 and 1%, using the Levene (1960) robust test for equality of variances.

Pompeu Fabra University and Barcelona GSE

Submitted: 1 April 2004 Accepted: 29 March 2009


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