Discussion paper

DP15533 The Refugee's Dilemma: Evidence from Jewish Migration out of Nazi Germany

We estimate the push and pull factors involved in the outmigration of Jews facing persecution in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1941. Our empirical investigation makes use of a unique individual-level dataset that records the migration history of almost the entire Jewish community living in Germany over the period. Our analysis highlights new channels, specific to violent contexts, through which social networks affect the decision to flee. We first estimate a structural model of migration where individuals base their own migration decision on the observation of persecution and migration among their peers. Identification rests on exogenous variations in local push and pull factors across peers who live in different cities of residence. Then we perform various experiments of counterfactual history in order to quantify how migration restrictions in destination countries affected the fate of Jews. For example, removing work restrictions for refugees in the recipient countries after the Nuremberg Laws (in 1935) would have led to a 28% increase in Jewish migration out of Germany.


Buggle, J, T Mayer, S Sakalli and M Thoenig (2020), ‘DP15533 The Refugee's Dilemma: Evidence from Jewish Migration out of Nazi Germany‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15533. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15533