Measuring The Spirit Of Capitalism

by Brendan James

Josh Keating finds a study claiming the Protestant work ethic is scientifically verifiable:

Using data from the European and World Values Surveys—global studies in which people are asked to describe their economic circumstances and subjectively assess their own well-being—they examined a sample of 150,000 individuals from 82 societies to see how people felt about unemployment. They found that while unemployment reduces well-being regardless of religious denomination, “it has an additional negative effect for Protestants of about 40 percent the size of the original effect.” In other words, “the individual level unemployment hurts Protestants much more than it does non-Protestants.”

The effect also applies for people living in predominantly Protestant societies, even if they are not Protestant themselves. When they examined self-reported happiness ratings, as opposed to well-being as a whole, they found the “negative effect of unemployment … to be twice as strong for Protestants compared to non-Protestants.”