Overcoming History through International Organizations – Historical Roots of EU Support and Euroscepticism

63 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2019

See all articles by Kai Gehring

Kai Gehring

University of Zurich - Chair of Political Economy; Heidelberg University; CESifo

Date Written: September 15, 2019


There is little causal evidence about deep-rooted sources of support for shifting power from nation-states to international organizations. Focusing on the European Union, this paper develops the hypothesis that citizens appreciate the role of international organizations in constraining member state’s the more, the more negatively their region was historically affected by the actions of nation-states. For identification, I use the historically homogeneous regions of Alsace and Lorraine in France as a natural experiment. A municipal level geographical regression discontinuity design documents that more negative exposure led to persistently higher EU support in three important referenda and less success of Eurosceptic parties in parliamentary elections. This effect is not driven by linguistic differences, migration, socioeconomic factors or public good provision, but linked to a stronger European identity. This stronger identity is neither explained by perceived economic benefits, nor comes at the expense of a weaker national or regional identity.

Keywords: European Union, European Union support, Euroscepticism, international organizations, nation-states, repression, conflict, persistence, European identity, group identity.

JEL Classification: D700, F500, H700, N240

Suggested Citation

Gehring, Kai, Overcoming History through International Organizations – Historical Roots of EU Support and Euroscepticism (September 15, 2019). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 7831. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3454228

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