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Religious Orders And Growth Through Cultural Change In Pre-Industrial England

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Executive Summary

The authors advance the hypothesis that cultural values such as high work ethics and thrift, "The Protestant ethic" according to MaxWeber, may have been diffused long before the Reformation, thereby importantly affecting the pre-industrial growth record. The source of pre-Reformation Protestant ethics, according to the proposed theory, was the Catholic Order of Cistercians. Using county-level data for England they find empirically that the frequency of Cistercian monasteries influenced county-level comparative development until 1801; that is, long after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The pre-industrial development of England may thus have been propelled by a process of growth through cultural change.

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