The idea of a "Protestant Work Ethic" was put forward by Max Weber in 1904. I don't think it's the reserve of Protestants only, though, you'll find hard work, discipline, and frugality in many cultures. For Protestants, however, these virtues, which I am sadly lacking, are tied in with the concept of predestination, that only those who are predestined to be saved, will be saved. Thus it was historically thought possible to discern the elect by observing their way of life, so that hard work and frugality would be something for people to strive for. If that is historically the case, then any such work ethic would largely be inherited in later generations in Northern, Central, and Western Europe, but with the increasing secularization among those people, it just isn't that simple, and we may now be witnessing a decline in this work ethic. Personally, I think that it's a case of either you have it or you don't. For that matter, capitalism happened well before the Reformation, in 14th century Italy, that should debunk the whole idea.
in reality, all of this has been a total load of old bollocks
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