Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party

48 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2013

See all articles by Shanker Satyanath

Shanker Satyanath

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Nico Voigtländer

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Hans-Joachim Voth

University of Zurich - UBS International Center of Economics in Society; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2013

Abstract

Social capital is often associated with desirable political and economic outcomes. This paper contributes to the literature exploring the “dark side” of social capital, examining the downfall of democracy in interwar Germany. We collect new data on the density of associations in 229 German towns and cities. Denser networks of clubs and societies went hand-in-hand with a more rapid rise of the Nazi Party. Towns with one standard deviation higher association density saw at least 15% faster Nazi Party entry. All types of societies – from veteran associations to animal breeders, chess clubs and choirs – positively predict NS Party entry. Party membership, in turn, is correlated with electoral success. These results suggest that social capital aided the rise of the Nazi movement that ultimately destroyed Germany’s first democracy. Crucially, we examine the question when a vibrant civic society can have corrosive effects. We show that the effects of social capital depended on the political context – in federal states with more stable governments, higher association density was not associated with faster Nazi Party entry.

Suggested Citation

Satyanath, Shanker and Voigtländer, Nico and Voth, Hans-Joachim, Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party (July 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w19201. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2289111

Shanker Satyanath (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States

Nico Voigtländer

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States
+1-310-794 6382 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/faculty/nico.v/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Hans-Joachim Voth

University of Zurich - UBS International Center of Economics in Society ( email )

Raemistrasse 71
Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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