The political economy of churches in Denmark,
Received: 17 August 2016 / Accepted: 29 April 2017 / Published online: 12 June 2017
Ó Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017
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 Á Religious Transition Á Historical time series
JEL Classiﬁcation N13 Á N14 Á Z12
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11127-017-0455-7)
contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
& Martin Paldam
Department of the Study of Religion, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Jens Chr.
Skous Vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Department of Economics and Business, Aarhus University, Fuglesangs Alle
4, 8210 Aarhus V,
Public Choice (2017) 172:443–463