Family and Politics: Does Parental Unemployment Cause Right-Wing Extremism?
49 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2006
Date Written: October 2006
Recent years have witnessed a rise in right-wing extremism among German youth and young adults. This paper investigates the extent to which the experience of parental unemployment during childhood affects young people's far right-wing attitudes and xenophobia. Estimates from three different German data sets show a positive relationship between growing up with unemployed parents and right-wing extremism, with xenophobia in particular. This paper uses differences in unemployment levels between East and West Germany, both before and after reunification, to investigate a causal relationship. Instrumental variables estimates suggest strong and significant effects of parental unemployment on right-wing extremism. This is consistent with classical theories of economic interest and voting behaviour which predict that persons who develop feelings of economic insecurity are more susceptible to right-wing extremism and anti-foreign sentiments.
Keywords: right-wing extremism, unemployment, instrumental variable, intergenerational links, panel estimators, matching
JEL Classification: C23, D72, J6, P16
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