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Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party

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  • Shanker Satyanath
  • Nico Voigtlaender
  • Hans-Joachim Voth

Abstract

Social capital is often associated with desirable political and economic outcomes. This paper contributes to a growing literature on its "dark side". We examine the role of social capital in the downfall of democracy in interwar Germany. We analyze Nazi Party entry in a cross-section of cities, and show that dense networks of civic associations such as bowling clubs, choirs, and animal breeders went hand-in-hand with a rapid rise of the Nazi Party. Towns with one standard deviation higher association density saw at least one-third faster entry. All types of associations – veteran associations and non-military clubs, “bridging” and “bonding” associations – positively predict NS Party entry. Party membership, in turn, predicts electoral success. These results suggest that social capital aided the rise of the Nazi movement that ultimately destroyed Germany’s first democracy. We also show that the effects of social capital were more important in the starting phase of the Nazi movement, and in towns less sympathetic to its message.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19201.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19201

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  1. Bai, Jushan & Ng, Serena, 2010. "Instrumental Variable Estimation In A Data Rich Environment," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(06), pages 1577-1606, December.
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  1. Singing for Hitler – Choirs, Clubs and the Third Reich
    by Chris Colvin in NEP-HIS blog on 2014-06-24 17:44:24
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Cited by:
  1. Adena, Maja & Enikolopov, Ruben & Petrova, Maria & Santarosa, Veronica & Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 2013. "Radio and the rise of the Nazis in prewar Germany," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2013-310, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  2. Pauline Grosjean, 2013. "Conflict and Social and Political Preferences: Evidence from World War II and Civil Conflict in 35 European countries," Discussion Papers 2013-29, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  3. Adena, Maja & Enikolopov, Ruben & Petrova, Maria & Santarosa, Veronica & Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 2013. "Radio and the rise of Nazi in pre-war Germany," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79876, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  4. Spenkuch, Jörg & Tillmann, Philipp, 2014. "Elite Influence? Religion, Economics, and the Rise of the Nazis," MPRA Paper 54909, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00858992 is not listed on IDEAS

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