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News – Protestant work ethic lives on

November 2007

 Protestant work ethic lives on

Countries where the main religion is Protestant Christianity have higher employment rates than those where other religions are dominant, according to research published in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology. In published his findings, Dr Horst Feldmann of the University of Bath (UK) allowed for factors like labour market and business regulations and taxes.

Countries such as the USA, UK, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, have employment rates 6% higher than countries where other religions are largely practised. The study, based on data from 80 countries, also showed that female employment rates are 11% higher in Protestant countries.
Dr Feldmann concludes that early Protestantism promoted the virtue of hard and diligent work amongst its adherents. This embedded into the respective national cultures and has been transmitted to the present by mass media and educational institutions.

Even if a majority of individuals in such countries have little contact with the church, the impact of a once powerful Protestant ideal persists in its institutions.

Conversely, countries dominated by other religions, such as Catholicism, Islam and Buddhism, are likely to have developed a national culture that does not put so high a value on hard and diligent work and can be hostile toward paid employment of women.
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