DP16314 On the origins of national identity. German nation-building after Napoleon

Author(s): Felix Kersting, Nikolaus Wolf
Publication Date: July 2021
Keyword(s): First Names, Germany, Nation-Building, National identity, Prussia
JEL(s): N43, Z13
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16314

What are the origins of national identity? In this paper, we investigate the success of the first nation-building policies conducted in Germany, around 1815. To elicit changes in identity at the level of individuals we use data on first names given in over 40.000 families across German cities. Using changes in the Prussian territory as well as variation within the same families over time, we find that parents in cities treated by nation building policies responded by choosing national (rather than Prussian) first names for their children.