Public Choice

, Volume 172, Issue 3–4, pp 443–463 | Cite as

The political economy of churches in Denmark, 1300–2015

Article

Abstract

This paper reports new time-series for the numbers and sizes of churches in Denmark over a 715-year period. Per capita, the new series are termed church densities. A pattern emerges in the series that corresponds to the main development in the economy: until 1750, the economy was in the traditional steady state, where church densities were high and did not decline substantially. Modern development set in after 1750. Since then, church densities have declined more than five times. Moreover, capacity utilization of church rooms has declined, which means that the reduction in the demand for churches must have been even larger. We argue that this large decline is caused by a fall in religiosity that is caused by economic development as measured by the rise in incomes. In parallel with similar transitions in other sectors, e.g., the Agricultural Transition, it is termed the Religious Transition.

Keywords

Church stock Religious Transition Historical time series 

JEL Classification

N13 N14 Z12 

Supplementary material

11127_2017_455_MOESM1_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 12 kb)

References

  1. Ahlin, L. (2015). Growth in alternative therapy: A valid argument against the secularization thesis? Contemporary Religion, 30, 399–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Becker, S. O., Nagler, M., & Woessmann, L. (2014). Education promoted secularization. CEPR discussion paper 9884.Google Scholar
  3. Berger, P. L. (1967). The sacred canopy: Elements of a sociological theory of religion. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  4. Berger, P. L. (1996/1997). Secularism in retreat. The National Interest, 46, 3–12.Google Scholar
  5. Bøgh, A. (2015). Højmiddelalderen, ca . 10501340: Kirke og gejstlighed {The middle ages, ap. 10501340: Church and clergy}. http://danmarkshistorien.dk/historiske-perioder/hoejmiddelalderen-ca-1050-1340/kirke-og-gejstlighed/.
  6. Bruce, S. (Ed.). (1992). Religion and modernization: Sociologists and historians debate the secularization thesis. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  7. Casanova, J. (2006). Rethinking secularization: A global comparative perspective. The Hedgehog Review, 8, 7–22.Google Scholar
  8. Christensen, N. (2008). Menighedsrådenes historie {The history of Danish parish councils}. http://kristendom.dk/guide-til-folkekirken/menighedsrådenes-historie.
  9. Christian Daily [Kristeligt Dagblad]. (2016). Kirkelukninger {Church closings}. Online collection of articles about church closing from 2013 onwards. http://kristeligt-dagblad.dk/kirkelukninger.
  10. Clark, G. (2007). A farewell to alms. A brief economic history of the world. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dobbelaere, K. (2002). Secularization: An analysis at three levels. Bruxelles: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  12. Durkheim, E. (1893) [1984]. The division of labour in Society. London: Palgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
  13. ESS, European Social Surveys. http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/. Download March, 2017.
  14. Fenger, O. (1988). Kirker rejses alle vegne. 1050–1250 {Churches are being raised everywhere}. In O. Olsen (Ed.), Danmarkshistorien {The history of Denmark} (Vol. 4). Copenhagen: Gyldendal og Politiken.Google Scholar
  15. Franck, R., & Iannaccone, L. R. (2014). Religious decline in the 20th century west: Testing alternative explanations. Public Choice, 159, 385–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grundtvigskirken (2015). Grundtvig og kirken {Grundtvig and the church}. http://grundtvigskirke.dk/page/403/kirken-og-grundtvig.
  17. Gundlach, E., & Paldam, M. (2009). The transition of corruption: From poverty to honesty. Economic Letters, 103, 146–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gundlach, E., & Paldam, M. (2012). A model of the religious transition. Theoretical Econ. Letters, 2012, 419–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heelas, P., & Woodhead, L. (2005). The spiritual revolution: Why religion is giving way to spirituality. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Ingesman, P. (2013). Den danske kirke i middelalderen {The Church of Denmark in medieval times}. In P. Ingesman & N. A. Pedersen (Eds.), Kirkens historie {History of the church} (Vol. 1, pp. 687–715). Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels Forlag.Google Scholar
  21. Iversen, H. R. (2013). Hvorfor forstår vi kirkestatistik, som vi gør? {Why do we understand church statistics as we do?} In M. V. Nielsen & H. R. Iversen (Eds.), Tal om Kirken. Undersøgelser af Folkekirkens aktivitets- og deltagerstatistik {Church data: Studies of activity and members participation} (pp. 115–128). http://teol.ku.dk/cfk/dokumenter/Tal_om_kirken_NY_med_tabellerrev_12.02.pdf.
  22. Jones, C. I., & Vollrath, D. (2013). Introduction to economic growth (3rd ed.). New York: WW Norton.Google Scholar
  23. Kristensen, H. K. (2013). Klostre i det middelalderlige Danmark {Monasteries in medieval Denmark}. Højbjerg: Jysk Arkæologisk Selskab.Google Scholar
  24. Larsen, K. E. (1996). Indre Mission i nyere tid {Home mission today}. Fredericia: Lohse.Google Scholar
  25. Lee, R. (2003). The demographic transition: Three centuries of fundamental change. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 1, 167–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Maddison, A. (2001). The world economy: A millennial perspective. Paris: OECD.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Maddison, A. (2003). The world economy: Historical statistics. Paris: OECD.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Maddison Project. (2013). http://ggdc.net/maddison/maddison-project/home.htm (Maddison (1926–2010) updated his data till 2010 one month before he passed away. His project was continued after 2012 by a group of economic historians).
  29. Malinowski, B. K. (1948). Magic, science and religion and other essays. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  30. Marx, K. (1843) [1970]. Critique of Hegel’s ‘philosophy of right’. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Ministry for Culture [Kulturministeriet]. (2013). Afgørelse i 14 kirkelukningssager i Københavns Stift {A decision on the closing of 14 churches in the Diocese of Copenhagen}. http://kum.dk/nyheder-og-presse/pressemeddelelser/nyheder/afgoerelse-i-14-kirkelukningssager-i-koebenhavns-stift/1/1/.
  32. Ministry for the Church [Kirkeministeriet]. (2013). Sareen vil have retningslinjer for kirkelukninger {Sareen calls for church closing guidelines}. http://km.dk/folkekirken/nyhedsarkiv-kirke/nyhed-om-kirke/news/sareen-vil-have-retningslinjer-for-kirkelukninger/.
  33. Niskanen, W. A. (1994). Bureaucracy and public economics. Aldershot: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  34. Norris, P., & Inglehart, R. (2011). Sacred and secular: Religion and politics worldwide (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Paldam, M. (2017). An economic perspective on the reformation and the downscaling of the church in Denmark, 1450–1650. Working paper available from http://martin.paldam.dk/GT-Religion.php.
  36. Paldam, M., & Gundlach, E. (2013). The religious transition. A long-run perspective. Public Choice, 156, 105–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Paldam, M., & Gundlach, E. (2017). Jumps into democracy: The transition in the Polity Index. Conference paper.Google Scholar
  38. Pejovich, S. (Ed.). (1997). The economic foundations of property rights. Selected readings. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  39. PEW Research Center. (2015). America’s changing religious landscape. May 12. http://pewforum.org/files/2015/05/RLS-08-26-full-report.pdf.
  40. Putnam, R. D., & Campbell, D. E. (2010). American grace: How religion divides and unites us. New York, NY: Simon & Shuster.Google Scholar
  41. Scheve, K., & Stasavage, D. (2006). Religion and preferences for social insurance. Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 1, 255–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Scocozza, B. (1990). Ved afgrundens rand (1600-1700) {At the edge of the abyss}. In O. Olsen (Ed.), Danmarkshistorien {The history of Denmark} (Vol. 8). Copenhagen: Gyldendal og Politiken.Google Scholar
  43. Shiner, L. (1967). The concept of secularization in empirical research. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 6, 207–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stark, R. (1999). Secularization, R.I.P. Sociology of Religion, 60, 249–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stark, R., & Iannaccone, L. (1984). A supply-side reinterpretation of the ‘secularization’ of Europe. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 33, 230–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Statistics Denmark. (1979). Dansk kultur-statistik 19601977 {Danish cultural statistics 19691977}. http://dst.dk/Site/Dst/Udgivelser/GetPubFile.aspx?id=4808&sid=kult1960-1977.
  47. Statstics Denmark. (2017). Folkekirkens medlemstal {Church membership}. http://km.dk/folkekirken/kirke-statistik/folkekirkens-medlemstal/.
  48. Timmer, C. P. (1988). The agricultural transformation. In H. Chenery & T. N. Srinivasan (Eds.), Handbook of development economics (Vol. 1, pp. 275–331). Amsterdam: North Holland.Google Scholar
  49. Ulsig, E. (1991). Pest og befolkningsnedgang i Danmark i det 14. århundrede {Plague and population decline in Denmark in the 14th century}. Historisk Tidsskrift, 15, 21–43.Google Scholar
  50. Weber, M. (1903/1904) [2002]. The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  51. Wilson, B. (1966). Religion in secular society: A sociological comment. London: C.A. Watts.Google Scholar
  52. World Bank. (1995). Bureaucrats in business: The economics and politics of government ownership. Washington, DC: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Zuckerman, P. (2008). Society without God: What the least religious nations can tell us about contentment. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of the Study of Religion, School of Culture and SocietyAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Economics and BusinessAarhus UniversityAarhus VDenmark

Personalised recommendations