DP8935 (Re-) Shaping Hatred: Anti-Semitic Attitudes in Germany, 1890-2006

Author(s): Nico Voigtländer, Hans-Joachim Voth
Publication Date: April 2012
Keyword(s): anti-Semitism, attitudes, cultural transmission
JEL(s): N44, Z1
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=8935

In this paper, we assess the determinants of long-run persistence of local culture, and examine the success of policy interventions designed to change attitudes. We analyze anti-Semitic attitudes drawing on individual-level survey results from Germany?s social value survey in 1996 and 2006. On average, we find that historical voting patterns for anti-Semitic parties between 1890 and 1933 are powerful predictors of anti-Jewish attitudes today. There is evidence that transmission takes place both vertically (parent to child) and horizontally (among peers). Policy modified German views on Jews in important ways: The cohort that grew up under the Nazi regime shows significantly higher levels of anti-Semitism. After 1945, the victorious Allies implemented denazification programs in their zones of occupation. We use differences in these policies between the occupying powers as a source of identifying variation. The US and French zones today still show high anti-Semitism, reflecting an ambitious botched attempt at denazification. In contrast, the British and Soviet zones, register much lower levels of Jew-hatred.