I'm not sure about the religion, but my family is from Jujuy (the part of Argentina near Bolivia) and most of the people there is officially Catholic but there is a lot of mix with the prehispanic religions, so I guess that in Misiones there is a lot of mix of with the guarani religion. (Actually, the official Catholic religion has a lot of loaned parts from the previous European religions.)
Those are both European instruments. There might be Guarani themes or styles mixed in, but those are not traditional (pre-European) instruments. Likely even the style of music is extremely heavily influenced by the colonists if the “traditional” instruments are now European.
Colonization doesn’t leave a lot of indigenous culture intact.
It's known that these areas had four immigration phases, from 1820 to 1960. The monarchy (then the government) began to stimulate the arrival of Europeans because of the vast land and good climate. The monarchy even used agressive propaganda and megalomanic promises. Our recent elected president came from one of those european immigration waves, from Italian Veneto region in 1888.
There's a huge italian and german presence in this southern region (as well as in Argentina and neighbors), and also great natural resources that allowed agriculture and family farming to those european experienced farmers. This southern region today produces most of Brazil's grains, oilseeds (and exports).
So in a way, knowledge, higher incomes and education levels were imported. Brazil is full of curious phenomena, and it deserves more sociological study, being a young country.
Any significant post-1767 immigration (and especially from some of the most developed parts of the world) would easily produce bigger effects than this claimed persistence from the Jesuits.
How much do we know about the spatial distribution of such people, and their descendants? I mean not just southern Brazil, but it would be nice to see if there are clumps... especially if one was centred on where the missions were. Perhaps just filtering census data for German surnames would work? I bet this would correlate with literacy.
The reality is that those communities are very poor, having even cases of institutionalized racism, where children were separated from their parents at their Guaraní and Kaiowá communities by the brazilian state and sent to child safety services, atrocious. 
Then perhaps I should ask the reverse question, about which districts still have much Guaraní and Kaiowá presence -- is there perhaps a map? If things are as bad for them as you say (which I can fully believe, sadly) then all you would need is for them not to be perfectly uniformly distributed, to produce what this paper sees.
The paper's hypothesis then seems increasingly crazy. Did the Jesuits do something magical to the soil, so that the subsequent inhabitants of that area would be more literate?
But more importantly, so do their grandkids. And anecdotally, there is still a strong bias against the usefulness of school (leading to lack of attendance, and dropping out) among kids descended from the lost generation, that isn't present even just a few miles away in the next counties over.
I don't think this has been quantitatively studied, but if the data backs up the anecdotal impression, it would essentially bolster the argument reported in the OP.
I live in a rural area in a Southern state. My school never closed down to avoid integration, as far as I'm aware at least, but there is still a strong bias against education by those whose parents dropped out. Some have overcome that and see the importance of education, but I have many students who don't, because their parents are doing alright (though I bet things are worse than the students are aware of), so they can do the same thing too with only a high school education, or by dropping out altogether. They don't understand how different it is, but I, too, would love to see it quantified.
I’m not sure if it is lower socioeconomic status, or just inability to coach. It is hard to give advice about how to get into grad school or how to interview for an engineering job or even how to study engineering undergraduate classes if your experience is, say, being foreman of a framing crew. No disrespect, the trades are important and undervalued, but the experience-based advice you have to offer is in a different realm.
For example, in my AP Calculus honors class was mostly East Asian high school kids, in a school famous for gang violence (class of 05, I recognized their faces in the newspapers), started joining ethnic street gangs during this time. Like this Vietnamese dude was a high achiever like the rest of us tryna get into a good university, then the cops showed up and arrested for attempted murder for bashing some white kid's head in the hallway with a baseball bat. It was like a gang initiation thing, I hear many many other such incidents. Honestly, I was tense all the time. It was only when I was threatened with a deadly weapon over a scuffle, did I realize what I was dealing with. I asked that classmate why he attacked the student in the hallway, he replied
"cuz he was askin for it"
Pretty shocking since not long ago we were studying calculus together. Well, I hope the thug life was worth a permanent criminal record that permanently bars you from partaking in the mainstream economy.
I was always encouraged to go to school. It's important they said. You need it to get a good job.
BUT! The teachers are stupid. Don't trust them too much. They dont know everything. If they were really that good, they'd be doing it, not teaching. Always question what they tell you, verify things on your own. If something doesn't make sense, speak up and get them to explain. You'll soon see how shallow their knowledge really is.
And don't worry. You're never gonna need any of this in real life. Grades are important! Get good grades. But also don't worry coz nobody is gonna care as soon as you're out of school.
Mixed signals right?
I never graduated and I like to think I got everything I needed out of college except a piece of paper.
PS: In high school I was everyone's worst nightmare. When I was engaged, I'd ask a lot of questions and derail the instruction. When I thought your subject was stupid, I'd just not participate, avoid any and all homework, and get straight Fs.
The straight Fs in particular had to have been frustrating to teachers because I'd then learn enough of their entire year's worth of curriculum in 2 weeks to get a D and pass the class.
PPS: My mum eventually did go to college when I was in college. She graduated before me. Still says it's useless IRL.
I loathe this attitude. I'm a teacher, and I decided to teach because I (thought that I) enjoy teaching, not because I couldn't be doing something else. This is true for several of the teachers I know. I know some who passed up on being doctors, or lawyers or other professions to become teachers because they enjoyed it, and liked doing it more.
Yes, some are stupid, but you're painting with broad strokes and, honestly, it's not easy to see why we have a cult of anti-intellectualism in America because of how common this attitude is. A lot of them have thorough knowledge to explain something, but the student doesn't yet have all the requisite knowledge to understand...Like when someone asks me why, when we study perpendicular lines in Algebra, it has a negative reciprocal slope. They don't know trig identities; they're not at a level to understand the various proofs behind it. So when I tell them not to worry about it, that doesn't mean my knowledge is "shallow".
It would be nice if doctors became doctors just for the joy of helping people, not all the money and social status. Teachers work with difficult kids and put in the time to make the world a better place with zero pay [if you factor out cost of living].
There are a lot of people out there who did great in school but never learned to think for themselves. Some of those people are now saddled in debt and don't have the skills to dig their way out.
A better lesson would have been that teachers are a resource. You can go to them with questions when you're stuck. You can use them for guidance. College professors especially.
In modern times, we understand that access to markets is the determining factor in income. It is why those who live in cities can typically make more than those who live in rural areas, and why – as you alluded to – those with family connections to business find themselves making more than those who don't have an "in." It is even why people strongly advocate for limiting competition (through unions, for example) in a marketplace in order to increase incomes (or other benefits) of those who are in the inner circle.
One would naturally conclude that missions were correlated with access to markets, perhaps due to springing up where markets were already strong, but the article seems to have determined that education caused the higher incomes back then. Something that hasn't proven true in modern times, where incomes have held stagnant over the years for groups that have seen an increase in college attainment.
No, it's one small item of 'determining factors'.
Yes, the richest zip codes are in cities, but most impoverished areas in the USA are actually generally in cities. The former drags the average way up.
Have a look here, Postal Code map of Canada 
Scroll over to to Toronto:
You notice 'super rich area' uptown. Then downtown and environs and immediate burbs are poor, some very poor. Then the 'extraburbs' are wealthy, then then countryside in the middle.
If you account for cost of living - the countryside people are doing very well. It costs $120K for a nice big house in my hometown, and electricians earn $80K.
In the us - the rural areas in the US that don't have a history of slavery (like the Dakotas, even Texas) actually have high levels of income and low levels of unemployment, low levels of crime ... but as you point out, not quite the same as the 'professional class' within cities.
So the 'banker class' and 'professional class' will be in cities, and make the most money.
But many of the rest in economic zones actually don't fare very well.
I would be ashamed to publish criticism about an open access scientific article without having any understanding of statistics.
Given the topic, how would it not?
Saying "just use your eyes!" instead of actually doing analysis can lead you to all kinds of incorrect conclusions -- both false positives and false negatives.
Yet the statistic supports the conclusion. Just because the signal is weak doesn't mean there's no signal.
After 100 datasets you're virtually necessarily going to come across these misleading conclusions, no?
This is even before p-hacking.
Having said that, the study reported on here has significance levels better than 1%:
> The farther away a municipality (in dots) is from a historical mission, the lower its literacy level today. This unconditional relationship is negative and highly significant with a t-statistic of -4.36.
So, notwithstanding the experts here eyeballing the graph and dismissing it as embarrassing, I'd say there is something going on here.
Caicedo, F. V. (2018). The Mission: Human Capital Transmission, Economic Persistence, and Culture in South America*. The Quarterly Journal of Economics. doi:10.1093/qje/qjy024
However, I don't really see what this study has to do with multiple testing. As far as I can tell, they had one dataset, and they tested that, and they got a significant result. Nothing fishy there. Sure the data is noisy, but wouldn't you expect that given how coarse the data is, and how many confounding factors there must be?
Not saying that happened here! I haven’t even read the paper. But it is a valid concern when mining data for patterns, especially when those patterns have a questionable theoretical basis.
I totally understand you're not saying that's what's happening here, but just to clarify for other readers, I'd say in this case there are a few reasons we don't need quite that level of suspicion:
1. There is a seemingly-sound theoretical basis for the observation (moreover, there doesn't seem to have been any element of fishing. Sometimes researchers think fishing is OK if they just do it once to avoid multiple testing. But then you certainly have multiple testing at the meta level).
2. This study agrees with at least one other completely independent, reputable study  (even different methodologies, apparently) that supported the underlying theory.
I do think the problem of multiple testing at the meta level is vastly underrated by the scientific community. Just, in this case, I think there are reasons to reject that hypothesis.
You're referring to "Type I error" in which a statistically significant result is obtained by chance, not because the effect is real.
This article does not appear to be an example of the hypothetical scenario you proposed. The trend line is not a "horrid-fit," as attested to by the statistical analysis published in the article - which is open access and may be read for free.
This is a scientific article - and unless you're a scientist, it may be difficult to understand the entire article.
The simplest, most conservative form is Bonferroni correction , where you just divide the required significance threshold by the number of tests you perform. In your example, if you required significance at the 99% level (1% chance a false positive, or "Type I error"), then for 100 datasets, each individual one would require significance at the 99.99% level (0.01% false positives for each data set). (99.99%)^100 = 99.005%. This does not require any assumptions about the independence of the tests. Independent tests are the worst case, so this over-corrects if there is actual correlation between the measurements.
There are other, more complicated correction methods that do not give up as much statistical power (i.e., produce fewer false negatives), but that may require making more assumptions.
I've heard it called p-value hacking, Wikipedia refers to it as data-dredging.
If A leads to B, and B to C, isn't A ultimately the cause of C?
So education seems to be the core benefit here. Not just living close to a mission.
Without that level of proof, the conclusion is premature. Or as I already mentioned, the core stimulus wrong.
Science isn't supposed to be easy. Truth isn't supposed to be easy. If it's easy, then there's a fair chance it's not either one of these.
Note: (probably) was in parens in a wink wink editorial sorta way. That is, I didn't want to say it as fact. But hint, given the lack of absolutely evidence, otherwise, it's a pretty safe presumption.
I think you have a valid point, but that the correlation between B and C is still very likely, even if A is a factor in the existence of B.
For instance, if I have a particularly great lunch one day because a new guy is working the grill at a restaurant, I would claim that the new guy working the grill is the reason for my great lunch. There are, of course, many factors which go into him being there, such as the manager who chose to hire him, but it is nonetheless truthfully and directly because of him that I've had a great lunch.
Similarly, a mission is relevant and increases the likelihood of an education; it doesn't mean that education is not the most direct correlation, however. Additionally, somebody pointed out how similar effects were not found when missions focused on health and poverty, for instance.
Your statement now that B probably does not lead to C puzzles me. If that is true, then the A -> B -> C chain is broken, and your original statement that A is the cause of C (based on that chain) is invalidated. So I don't know where you are going with this.
Likewise with the Gregorian calendar, introduced in October 1582. The Protestants simply lacked the institutional strength to pull off so important a reform.
Only if the mappings hold for every element, ie every A has to lead to B and every B has to lead to C before you can conclude that A causes B
Example: Getting shot causes holes in your lungs. Holes in your lungs cause you to die. Therefore, getting shot causes you to die.
All the above, including the inference in the last sentence, are valid statements, even though they don't hold true in 100% of cases.
Answer to grandparent's question is: Yes, if A->B->C, then A->C. Just make sure those casuative arrows actually exist before you make this deduction.
But in natural language, statements about causation don't have to be 100 percent guaranteed to be valid.
Otherwise there's very little you could really say about the world.
Consider: "smoking causes cancer." According to you, this would be false.
In 1767, people who were educated by the Jesuits would be considered to have infinitely higher education levels by this study (as opposed to a baseline of zero), and people who participated in commerce with the Jesuits and the Spanish would be considered to have infinitely higher incomes than the people who didn't (who would be considered to have an income of zero.) I bet you might find out that they are slightly more Catholic, and slightly more into Spanish TV and films.
I went to a Jesuit high school, and some of the teachers were priests. My religion teacher (who also gave math classes, but not to me) was an electrical engineer whose master thesis pertained to ring token networks. He also ended up doing jail time after sexually assaulting his nephew, but that's another story...
Edit: of course they would teach religion, but not from reading the Bible.
The Jesuits, especially around the 1600s emphasized adopting some customs of the local culture in order to spread Christianity, so you see Jesuits arriving in China and Japan learning the local language, dressing in local clothing, and even emulating some of the local traditions. Then they would use their advanced knowledge and willingness to provide education as a means of spreading Catholicism.
For example, Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary to China impressed the Chinese so thoroughly that he was the first European ever invited to the Forbidden City. In the early 1600s, He was hugely influential in spreading more modern astronomical findings to China and he also provided the Chinese with the first modern (as in complete) map of the world. He was even nice enough to label it in Mandarin.
The Jesuits were extremely thorough at documenting their efforts so they were able to discern what worked from what didn't. Language became a very obvious barrier, namely that it was quite hard to translate some Catholic theological concepts (e.g. a Trinitarian God) into some languages. This meant that they emphasized learning the local language even more, but also would devote some effort to teaching locals Latin or some other suitable Romantic language - usually the one attached to the European power in control of the area. The effectiveness of temporary missions also proved to be problematic: converted locals "unconverted" after the missions left, so missions became more permanent and there was a focus on becoming a part of the local community. In practice, this meant constructing permanent locals for the missions (which usually had schools or universities attached).
 This is probably best summarized by the concept of "Opus Dei" (God's Work) and the universal call to holiness. The idea is that your daily work, regardless of profession, should be considered an offering to God. If your work is an offering to God, then it must be your best work so you should not be either mediocre or half-assed about it.
They do address confounding variables a bit but it isn't especially thorough.
> The Franciscans helped, too. The mendicant order had been in the area longer than the Jesuits. It wasn’t expelled. But the Franciscans focused on poverty and health, rather than education and vocation. Valencia found that, perhaps as a result, families’ economic and educational outcomes didn’t vary based on their distance to that order’s missions.
The article has a map of where the Jesuit missions were located, and they are in quite a small area, basically in a line about 300km long. So the variable "distance to closest Jesuit" is probably just distance from this region.
I don't know much about protestant ethic but that sounded plausible to me.
As the story goes, protestants changed their religion (or better yet created a new one) to fit their peculiar cultural trats, not the other way around.
In any case, both Jesuits and Franciscans are Catholic.
The Protestant work ethic is far more about the theology of the Reformers, and in particular the Calvinistic Reformers. Their doctrines included the idea of doing all that you do for the glory of God (including your vocation, and thus compelling excellence at work), treating your material possessions as ultimately belonging to God and not yourself, and thus not to be wasted in frivolities, denial of the self and self-pleasure, resulting in less waste on "fancy living", and much less of a focus on giving to the Church as a means of attaining grace. This resulted in private individuals accruing more wealth. It certainly isn't the only reason for European capitalism and wealth, but it appears to be a factor.
One particular case that is interesting: USA. USA is pretty religious country(>2/3 believe in god and angels) relative to other western countries(where religion is in decline and below 1/2). Its often argued that the religious nature(protestants) of USA shaped the superpower and its economic dominance. Nearly all founding fathers were wealthy land owners who were also deeply religious. The god that they believed in was a wealthy god, who told his subjects it was okay to pursue wealth and fortune. So its not surprising that Televangelists ask for crazy donations and live like the wealthy.
So... who knows? I mean, there are so many differences you're never going to be able to pick the various effects apart without careful - but subjective and error-prone - plain old reasoning.
I don't see any particular reason to believe religion played a very notable role, but I don't think it's an absurd notion either: I just don't know, and haven't seen a very convincing argument either way.
Nearly all founding fathers were ... were also deeply religious
My interpretation of this is that America was founded based on Christian ethics, culture, and philosophy; even if many of the founders were not practicing Christians. In my opinion, this does not necessarily imply that America is/should be a Christian nation in the right wing/culture war sense.
Two big factors: the U.S. and Canada held enormous untapped gold and silver sources, and the U.S. (and Russia) appropriated all German intellectual property after WWII. Their allies didn't, but kept trading with the U.S. nonetheless.
The degree to which the founding fathers were religious is debatable. It would appear to be singular achievement for men of actual, deep faith to resist the temptation to recreate the sort of intertwined state and church typical of the time.
A somewhat more believable narrative is that the founding fathers tended more to the religious ideas of enlightment, in a process parallel to what would later result in the french revolution.
That believe system is called "deism" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism#Deism_in_the_United_Stat...) and Wikipedia lists quite a few well-known names (with varying degrees of evidence).
It is unlikely that any of them believed in a "Wealthy god", for most of these men were quite smart, and had studied philosophy, while the idea of God being "wealthy" in a material sense is insanely stupid: Once you've created the universe, you really don't care about your ranking on the Forbes list.
There is, obviously, the Calvinist/Puritan tradition that emphasised work ethics (plus burning of witches). But it's important to remember that these were very small communities, and that about a hundred years passed between the pilgrims and US independence. By that time, these groups were but a minor fraction of the population. The vast majority of delegates to the Continental Congress were therefore (officially) Anglicans or "mainline" Protestants.
That's not to discount the Quaker/Calvinist/etc. influence, which certainly played a role. But it's unclear if the causality was quite as easy as one may think: after all, religious believes emphasising self-reliance may just be too good a fit for the needs of small groups of settlers arriving on a vast and wild continent. So it's just as believable that the importance of such doctrine was retrofitted to the needs of the time, possibly even afterwards.
In any case, drawing an equivalence from these early believes of redemption through work to today's version of retrofitting religion to match culture, namely the so-called "Prosperity Gospel" is a simplification bordering on insult. That's easily observed by comparing adherence of the former tradition (the Amish being the closest example you'll find) and the latter (the President comes to mind).
The missing pieces are obvious: humility was certainly among the values, but wealth wasn't. While hard work was/is emphasised, it was/is not intended to lead to earthly riches, but to atone for the original sin and, by God's grace, lead to rewards not in this life, but what comes next.
Considering that the sectarian violence of the English Civil War was still fresh in their minds, and that many of the States did have different official state churches (e.g. MA:Puritan, PA:Quaker, MD: Catholic), they all made a pragmatic compromise to prohibit the congress from establishing a federal religion or interfering with the state religions of any of the several states.
As an example, the original MA state constitution, written by Adams, makes the Congregationalist church the state religion, and guarantees state funding to construct a church in each town and pay a Congregationalist minister to preach there. That's why there is a quaint white wooden church in the center of each town in MA and ME (which was part of MA at the time).
Jefferson might have been a deist and his Democrats have always been more aligned with the spirit of the French enlightenment and revolution, but the Whigs/Federalists were most definitely not.
Arguing that the general groups of faceless people you've marked as the problem do not present evidence when you yourself have provided none is....ironic?
Who are these people you despise so much? Let's find them and make them wear something that will allow us to see them for the enemy they are. Right?
Love is the answer.
It is easy to see that there is no coherent set of "Christian values" that is not based on secular traditions, just look at the history of Christian torture (middle age), genocides, child abuse, Christian support for Feudalism, crusades, and so forth. The Christian values you endorse nowadays are an invention that didn't exist 150 years ago and resulted from the influence of other ideologies on Christianity, not the opposite.
I suspect you're a big fan of the US constitution? In that case I fear you won't like to hear how that document was really quite like what you are complaining about: upsetting the (god-given) status quo to grant newfangled "rights" to the masses that cannot handle them. Replacing what had worked so well for so long with risky, top-down experiments in government-engineered "elite" ideas of equality, etc.
The foundational philosophy of the US happens to be the so-called "Enlightenment", if only because that was what was hip in 1759. If you need proof, just find the reason the French send the US such a generous gift as Lady Liberty.
As to empirical evidence of progress, it would seem that you can have your pick among any number of geographic areas and you will find a astonishingly strong correlation between general welfare and the sort of "undefined futuristic government-sanctioned destruction" you bemoan. Even within the outlier, namely the US, the less God-fearing parts on the coast seem to be doing quite well.
Of course I'm defining "general welfare" to include the right of women to vote and the rights of gay people to not be stoned, and I'm getting the vibe that you would disagree with that. Tough luck, I guess: That's the government-sanctioned metric now.
(although I suspect even most born-again white men would prefer today's godless dentists and scandalous, dangerous ideas of "all men are created equal")
Also, I'm not an expert on the Guarani or Jesuit missions, but it seems that actually the natives were the ones who dictated how labor was to be organized: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/614138 This says that they established a sort of proto-socialist system (my word, not theirs) of communal ownership and redistribution of food on mission lands by threatening to go on strike, essentially. Since the Jesuits were totally dependent on the Guarani as the primary labor force farming and feeding the missions, they couldn't impose the harsher labor regime they wanted. This doesn't sound like unenlightened Indians being taught the value of hard work by Jesus, it sounds like a well-organized group of people who knew the value of their own labor and took steps to ensure that they could benefit fairly from it.
All in all, if you want to claim that the power of Christian belief alone can account for these findings, I think the burden of proof is squarely on your shoulders.
Are you making a joke that I don't get, or did you skip over the first occurrence of "percent"?
Isn’t that what civilization is all about?
So I’ll try again...
What the article is discussing is an effect of civilization. Humans invest in things to create lasting effects.
Perhaps the best documentation on this theory is Porter’s Diamond , which helps explain things like Silicon Valley for tech, HOUSTON for Oil & Gas, or car builders in Northern Italy.
If we didn’t see these effects, then there would be no way to advance civilization. Put another way, there have to be lasting effects a good part of the time, or we’d still live back in the Stone Age. My frustration is that the author seems to think this is amazing place, despite the fact that it can be found all over the world. Another example would be London for finance, and Switzerland for banking.
This is like one society(A) conquering a perfectly functioning desert dwelling culture(B) that was previously unconcerned with A and teaching B how to swim the butterfly stroke because being a good butterfly swimmer leads to prosperity in society A’s socioeconomic system. This now valuable training was passed on through the generations of B and today they are good swimmers and more prosperous in the new society then those who historically didn’t get the lesson. And we look at this correlation to say that investments in swimming is a good thing and pat ourselves on the back. Ok.
I agree that thinking about ideas like that is important, but I have to point out that it's not like the entire planet was conquered by a single culture, only large parts of it were conquered by the European powers. Civilizations were founded in many different places, and the rare existing cultures who eschewed trade and weren't conquered haven't developed in a long time. There is actually a question as to whether they live a generally more fulfilling life than we do, but that wouldn't be because they developed a better way, instead it's that they didn't develop at all.