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Cultural differences between East and West Germany after 1991: Communist values versus economic performance?

  • van Hoorn, André
  • Maseland, Robbert

Two decades after reunification substantial economic disparities between East and West Germany remain. With formal institutions being equalized, a typical explanation is that the partition of Germany created differences in economic values and attitudes that continue to feed differences in economic performance. Empirical work using values surveys to investigate the extent to which values differ between East and West has thus far produced mixed findings. We use individual-level panel data to assess East and West German value preferences by investigating how individuals from each group differentially transform situational factors into happiness. This novel method of assessing value differences shows that preferences indeed vary between East and West Germans. However, this variation is not in line with the differences associated with the gap in economic performance; if anything, Easterners appear to entertain values more conducive to economic growth. This suggests that the belief that economic differences between Eastern and Western Germany are a result of a Communist cultural legacy may be largely a myth.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 76 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 791-804

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:76:y:2010:i:3:p:791-804
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