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Weber Revisited: A Cross-National Analysis of Religiosity, Religious Culture, and Economic Attitudes
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Weber’s Protestant Ethic hypothesis holds that elements of theology gave Protestants a cultural affinity with the economic demands of early market capitalism, particularly compared with their Catholic neighbors, which led to more rapid economic development in nations where Protestant culture was dominant. Previous research has found inconsistent support for a Protestant inclination toward pro-market attitudes, depending on whether the level of analysis was at the individual or national level. The present study uses cross-national panel data to combine these approaches with multilevel modeling. Results showed effects at the national level; people living in nations with dominantly Protestant cultural histories had more pro-market economic attitudes. At the individual level, there were differences in the impact of religiosity by religious group affiliation; Protestants had relatively pro-market attitudes regardless of religiosity, while members of other groups tended to increase in market orientation as a function of religiosity. Together, these effects support the existence of a Protestant Ethic that is linked with cultural Protestantism, rather than with personal adherence to specific Protestant religious beliefs.