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Culture and attitudes to work

To what extent can differences in culture and attitudes towards work explain differences in unemployment across time and space? This policy brief examines variations in the time that unemployed people in Switzerland spend looking for work, comparing residents of Swiss nationality who speak German with residents who speak French or Italian. According to survey evidence and voting results, the Swiss language border separates two social groups with different cultural backgrounds and attitudes towards work. Despite similar local labour markets, French and Italian speakers who lose their job spend almost seven weeks longer in unemployment than their German-speaking neighbours. This effect is comparable to a large increase in the generosity of unemployment insurance.