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


  • Shanker Satyanath
  • Nico Voigtländer
  • Hans-Joachim Voth


Using newly collected data on association density in 229 towns and cities in interwar Germany, we show that denser social networks were associated with faster entry into the Nazi Party. The effect is large: one standard deviation higher association density is associated with at least 15 percent faster Nazi Party entry. Party membership, in turn, predicts electoral success. Social networks thus aided the rise of the Nazis that destroyed Germany's first democracy. The effects of social capital depended on the political context: in federal states with more stable governments, higher association density was not correlated with faster Nazi Party entry.

Suggested Citation

  • Shanker Satyanath & Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2017. "Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(2), pages 478-526.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/690949
    DOI: 10.1086/690949

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Winkelried, D. & Smith, R.J., 2011. "Principal Components Instrumental Variable Estimation," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1119, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Bai, Jushan & Ng, Serena, 2010. "Instrumental Variable Estimation In A Data Rich Environment," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(6), pages 1577-1606, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-
    • P16 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Capitalist Institutions; Welfare State
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General


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