The Effect of Communism on People's Attitudes Toward Immigration

47 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2018

See all articles by Matthew Carl

Matthew Carl

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Date Written: September 9, 2018

Abstract

Does living in a communist regime make a person more concerned about immigration? This paper argues conceptually and demonstrates empirically that people’s attitudes toward immigration are affected by their country's politico-economic legacy. Exploiting a quasi-natural experiment arising from the historic division of Germany into East and West, I show that former East Germans, because of their exposure to communism, are notably more likely to be very concerned about immigration than former West Germans. Opposite of what existing literature finds, higher educational attainment in East Germany actually increases concerns. Further, I find that the effect of living in East Germany is driven by former East Germans who were born during, and not before, the communist rule and that differences in attitudes persist even after Germany’s reunification. People's trust in strangers and contact with foreigners represent two salient channels through which communism affects people's preferences toward immigration.

Keywords: immigration, people’s attitudes, communism, Germany

JEL Classification: F22, Z10, J18, P30

Suggested Citation

Carl, Matthew, The Effect of Communism on People's Attitudes Toward Immigration (September 9, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3246617 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3246617

Matthew Carl (Contact Author)

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

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