There Really Is Such a Thing as the Protestant Work Ethic

A group of Dutch economists provide more proof that Weber was probably right after all:

A recent paper by André van Hoorn and Robbert Maseland:

Test[s] the relation between Protestantism and work attitudes using a novel method, operationalizing work ethic as the effect of unemployment on individuals’ subjective well-being. Analyzing a sample of 150,000 individuals from 82 societies, we find strong support for a Protestant work ethic: unemployment hurts Protestants more and hurts more in Protestant societies. Whilst the results shed new light on the Protestant work ethic debate, the method has wider applicability in the analysis of attitudinal differences.

The connection between work and happiness is much more intense in Protestant countries than in others. Protestants suffer intense hardship from unemployment; the “psychic harm from unemployment is about 40 percent worse for Protestants than for the general population,” according to the authors. This also holds true for non-Protestants living in Protestant countries, where they suffer more from unemployment than their global neighbors.

As the authors put it:

The resulting ‘experienced preferences’ provide strong support for Weber’s original thesis: for both Protestants and Protestant countries, not having a job has substantially larger negative happiness effects than for other religious denominations. This provides a Weber-type channel relating religion to socio-economic outcomes.

This entry was posted in Sociology. Bookmark the permalink.