Public Choice

pp 1–21

The political economy of churches in Denmark, 1300–2015



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.


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)

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