A Time to Print, a Time to Reform

Lars Boerner, Jared Rubin, Battista Severgnini

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterResearchpeer-review


The public mechanical clock and movable type printing press were arguably the most important and complex technologies of the late medieval period. We document two of their most important, yet unforeseeable, consequences. First, towns that were early adopters of clocks were more likely to also be early adopters of presses. We posit that towns with clocks became upper-tail human capital hubs|both technologies required extensive technical know-how that had many points of overlap. Second, a three-stage instrumental variables analysis indicates that the press in uenced the adoption of Protestantism, while the clock's effect on the Reformation was mostly indirect.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventAEA Annual Meeting 2020 - San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, San Diego, United States
Duration: 3 Jan 20205 Jan 2020


ConferenceAEA Annual Meeting 2020
LocationSan Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego
Internet address


  • Mechanical clock
  • Printing press
  • Technology
  • Reformation
  • Human capital
  • Instrumental variables

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