Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/222128
Authors: 
Becker, Sascha O.
Mergele, Lukas
Woessmann, Ludger
Year of Publication: 
2020
Series/Report no.: 
Discussion Paper 231
Abstract: 
German separation in 1949 into a communist East and a capitalist West and their reunification in 1990 are commonly described as a natural experiment to study the enduring effects of communism. We show in three steps that the populations in East and West Germany were far from being randomly selected treatment and control groups. First, the later border is already visible in many socio-economic characteristics in pre-World War II data. Second, World War II and the subsequent occupying forces affected East and West differently. Third, a selective fifth of the population fled from East to West Germany before the building of the Wall in 1961. In light of our findings, we propose a more cautious interpretation of the extensive literature on the enduring effects of communist systems on economic outcomes, political preferences, cultural traits, and gender roles.
Subjects: 
political systems
communism
preferences
culture
Germany
JEL: 
D72
H11
P26
P36
N44
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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