The Economic Effects of Catholic Church Censorship During the Counter-reformation

Sascha O. Becker (University of Warwick)
Francisco J. Pino (University of Chile)
Jordi Vidal-Robert (University of Sydney)

Abstract: Was censorship effective in 16th century European society? We present a new database of the population of books censored by the Catholic Church during the Counter-Reformation period (16th and beginning of 17th centuries) containing information on titles, authors, topics (religion, sciences, social sciences and arts), languages, georeferenced printing places and printers. We describe patterns of censorship across political entities in Europe over time, using the index produced in Rome (starting in 1564) as well as local indexes of prohibited books such as the Index of Louvain and the Index of the Spanish Inquisition. We then test the effects of censorship on the number of printed books, on the location of thinkers, on the spread of Protestantism and ultimately on city growth. Preliminary results suggest that Catholic censorship did have an impact on the publication of books, on the diffusion of knowledge and on economic growth