The Long-Term Effects of Protestantism

I just came across a couple of interesting new working papers on the historical effects of Protestantism.  The first builds on Robert Woodberry’s work on the effect of the printing press in Sub-Saharan Africa. In “The LongTerm Effects of the Printing Press in SubSaharan Africa,” Julia Cage and Valeria Rueda find “that, within regions located close to missions, proximity to a printing press significantly increases newspaper readership today” and that there is “a strong association between proximity to a printing press and contemporary economic development.”

Rossella Calvi and Federico Mantovanelli, in a paper titled “Long-Term Effects of Access to Health Care: Medical Missions in Colonial India” also find some positive long-term effects of Protestant missions, but this time in India.  They show that “a 50% reduction in the distance from a historical medical facility increases current individuals’ body mass index by 0.4.”  The path dependence “is not driven by persistence of infrastructure, but by improvements in individuals’ health potential and changes in hygiene and health habits.”

The Printing Press and Early Development in Africa

I just ran across an interesting looking working paper called “The Long-Term Effects of the Printing Press in Sub-Saharan Africa” (co-authored by Julia Cage and Valeria Rueda).

Here is a preview of their results:

We find that proximity to the closest location of a mission with a printing press has a positive and statistically significant impact on the probability of reading the news. A one-standard deviation increase in the proximity to a mission with a printing press increases the probability of reading the news on a monthly basis from 3 to 14% of a standard deviation, depending on the specifications. In contrast, proximity to a mission without a printing press has no significant impact on newspaper readership. Moreover, we also find that a one-standard deviation increase in the proximity to a mission with a printing press increases contemporary economic development by around 10% of a standard deviation.

My “to-read” pile has just gotten bigger.