Cultural vs. Economic Legacies of Empires: Evidence from the Partition of Poland
61 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2013 Last revised: 24 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 14, 2014
Poland was divided among three empires — Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Prussia — for over a century until 1918. The partition brought about divergence in culture, institutions, and economic development. We use spatial regression discontinuity to examine, which empire effects are persistent. We find that differences in incomes, industrial production, education, corruption, and trust in government institutions disappeared with time as they were smoothed by economic forces and policy intervention. In contrast, differences in intensity of religious practices and in beliefs in democratic ideals, i.e., democratic capital, persist presumably via inter-generational within-family transmission. Differences in railroad infrastructure built by empires during industrialization persisted to this day. Cultural empire legacies have an effect on the political outcomes in contemporary Poland.
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