ECONOMIC GROWTH AND THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: THE FRENCH CASE

Authors

  • RAPHAËL FRANCK

    1. Franck: Lecturer, Department of Economics, Bar Ilan University, 52900 Ramat Gan, Israel. Phone 972-3-531-8935, Fax 972-3-738-4034, E-mail franckr@mail.biu.ac.il
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      I thank Slava Dombrovski, Baptiste Eychart, André Fourçans, Laurence Iannaccone, Sébastien Lemeunier, Michael Makowsky, Ilia Rainer, Gary Richardson, Samia Tavares, Peter Temin, Heinrich Ursprung, and Carolyn Warner for helpful comments and discussions. This article also benefited from comments from participants at the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics and Culture meeting in Tampa and seminar participants at George Mason University. Part of this research was conducted while I visited the Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University, whom I thank for its hospitality. Financial support from the Adar Foundation of the Economics Department at Bar Ilan University is gratefully acknowledged. The usual disclaimer applies.


Abstract

This article provides a test of the secularization hypothesis, which argues that economic growth, industrialization, increased literacy, and low fertility decrease religiosity. It focuses on the elections of the secular politicians who voted in favor of the separation between Church and State in the French Parliament in 1905. If the secularization hypothesis is correct, these secular politicians should have been elected in the most developed areas of France at the turn of the twentieth century. Contrary to the predictions of the secularization hypothesis, we find that the support for secular politicians originated in the rural areas of France. (JEL Z12, D72, N43)

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