Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics

No 5-2019: A Time to Print; a Time to Reform

Lars Boerner, Jared Rubin and Battista Severgnini ()
Additional contact information
Battista Severgnini: Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics, Porcelaenshaven 16 A. 1. floor, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Abstract: The public mechanical clock and the movable type printing press were two of the most important and complex general purpose technologies of the late medieval period. We document two of their most important, yet unforeseeable, consequences. First, an instrumental variables analysis indicates that towns that were early adopters of clocks were more likely to also be early adopters of presses. We posit that towns with clocks became upper-tail human capital hubs—both technologies required extensive technical know-how that had many points of overlap. Second, a three-stage instrumental variables analysis indicates that the press influenced the adoption of Lutheranism and Calvinism, while the clock’s effect on the Reformation was indirect (via the press).

Keywords: mechanical clock; printing press; technology; Reformation; human capital; Calvinism; Lutheranism; instrumental variables

JEL-codes: N33; N73; O33; O34; P48; Z12

57 pages, March 1, 2019

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