Grant success for economic history research

prague-squareDr Alex Klein, a Lecturer within the School, has been awarded a three-year grant of 1.1 million Czech Crowns (c £36,000) by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic for his research on ‘Economic Development and the Spirit of Capitalism in Central Europe: Protestant Reformation and the Economy
of the Czech Lands in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century’.

Recent economic literature has sought to resurrect Max Weber’s theory of a link between religion and economic performance, yet its findings lack robustness because they rely on aggregative data for entire regions or nations. The grant will enable Alex to improve on these approaches by focusing on the level at which religious beliefs are actually held and economic behaviour generated – the individual, household, and community.

The 1651 religious census and the 1654 tax register for the Czech lands recorded religious and economic characteristics for many thousands of individuals and households. Mid-seventeenth-century Bohemia is an ideal laboratory for exploring Weberian hypotheses, since it was characterized by huge religious variation immediately after the Thirty Years War. It also lies at a key economic juncture between pre-war economic dynamism and an increasing severity of manorial controls and heavy state extraction.

This project applies modern economic theory and econometric approaches to these extraordinary Czech data to improve our understanding of links between religion and economics.