Does Proximity to Nazi Concentration Camps Make Germans Intolerant? Modeling Spatial Heterogeneity and Historical Persistence
63 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2020
Date Written: March 2, 2020
In a recent article in the American Political Science Review entitled “Legacies of the Third Reich: Concentration Camps and Out-group Intolerance,” Jonathan Homola, Miguel M. Pereira, and Margit Tavits argue that Germans who live nearer to former Nazi concentration camps are more likely to display out-group intolerance. We argue that their statistical findings are the product of unobserved regional heterogeneity. Using publicly available European Values Survey data and electoral results from 2017, we replicate their results, and then extend them using simple fixed effects specifications as well as more elaborate multilevel models. Our approach finds no consistent evidence that distance to camps is related to contemporary values. We also preregister our plan to replicate and extend their analyses using restricted-access data from the German General Social Survey. Our findings have important implications for the new literatures on historical persistence and the deep origins of contemporary politics, as well as for the fields of Holocaust studies, German politics, and out-group tolerance. Our approach to modeling spatial heterogeneity in historical persistence studies—investigating spatial variation and diagnosing why unmodeled heterogeneity can produce misleading inferences—can serve as a template for future studies.
Keywords: intolerance, immigration, persistence, Holocaust, Nazi, AfD, Weimar Republic, Germany, spatial econometrics, fixed effects
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