Religion and development in post-Famine Ireland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Over a century ago, Horace Plunkett began a debate about the role of religion in Irish development, pointing to what he saw as the economic shortcomings of Roman Catholicism. Thereafter, however, the debate waned, and only limited scholarship has subsequently investigated the significance of religion in Irish development, especially in statistical terms. In this article that lacuna is addressed, using a quantitative approach to examine the relationship between Roman Catholicism and economic and financial development in the post-Famine era. Attention is directed to a variety of development indicators, namely, education, occupations, and commerce. By focusing on a selection of measures over time, it is possible to determine more precisely where differences, if any, occurred between the denominations and whether such differences changed over the period. The analysis reveals that Roman Catholicism tends to be initially negatively associated with more advanced development outcomes, but that this association weakens over time. As such, the results point to an economic convergence between Roman Catholics and Protestants, complementing historical evidence on an upward Catholic socioeconomic transition—a ‘Catholic embourgeoisement’—in the post-Famine era.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1251-1285
    Number of pages35
    JournalEconomic History Review
    Issue number4
    Early online date10 Jan 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Religion and development in post-Famine Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Profiles

    No photo of Stuart Henderson

    Stuart Henderson

    Person: Academic

    Cite this