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Dialects, Cultural Identity, and Economic Exchange

  • Oliver Falck
  • Stephan Heblich
  • Alfred Lameli
  • Jens Suedekum

We investigate whether time-persistent cultural borders impede economic exchange across regions of the same country. To measure cultural differences we evaluate, for the first time in economics, linguistic micro-data about phonological and grammatical features of German dialects. These data are taken from a unique linguistic survey conducted between 1879 and 1888 in 45,000 schools. Matching this information to 439 current German regions, we construct a dialect similarity matrix. Using a gravity analysis, we show that current cross-regional migration is positively affected by historical dialect similarity. This suggests that cultural identities formed in the past still influence economic exchange today.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2010/wp-cesifo-2010-02/cesifo1_wp2961.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2961.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2961
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