Sociologist Max Weber first advanced the idea of a Protestant work ethic in 1914. A recent study suggests that not only does this ethic exist, it can make the effects of unemployment worse for Protestants than for non-Protestants.
The Dutch survey, which used data from 150,000 people in 82 countries traditionally identified as Protestant — including the U.S., U.K., South Africa, Germany and others — found that while unemployment has a negative effect on everyone, it affects Protestants more, up to 40% more in some cases. Dutch economist Dr. André van Hoorn, who led the study, said, "We found that the work ethic does exist, and that individual Protestants and historically Protestant societies appear to value work much more than others." Cary Cooper, professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University in England, said, "People who had followed the work ethic for years found themselves without a job [after the 2008 crash]; all the sacrifices – working long hours, not seeing the kids – had not worked out…. We may find that's damaged the work ethic and people are putting less focus on work and more on a balance between work and the rest of their life."