The Sins of the Fathers

Nico Voigtlander
Hans-Joachim Voth
How persistent are cultural traits? Using data on anti-Semitism in Germany, we ?nd local continuity over 600 years. Jews were often blamed when the Black Death killed at least a third of Europe’s population during 1348–50. We use plague-era pogroms as an indicator for medieval antiSemitism. They reliably predict violence against Jews in the 1920s, votes for
the Nazi Party, deportations after 1933, attacks on synagogues, and letters to Der Stu¨rmer. We also identify areas where persistence was lower: cities with high levels of trade or immigration. Finally, we show that our results are not driven by political extremism or by different attitudes toward violence.

The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2012), 1339–1392.

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2 Responses to The Sins of the Fathers

  1. Andrew says:

    The implications for the Sonderweg debate are interesting, though I doubt conclusive.

  2. MT Isa Miner says:

    Some unrelated comments:
    (1) it would be interesting to see if the effect held for Jews in another country;
    (2) for a group supposedly an outlier for intelligence in postwar USA/UK at least the Jews sure took a long time learning that assimilation or the pretence of it would have paid off;
    (3) yet another booster for the economic effect of trade or the unintended consequences of it.

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