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The Economic Impact of Social Ties: Evidence from German Reunification

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  • Burchardi, Konrad B.
  • Hassan, Tarek

Abstract

We use the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to show that personal relationships which individuals maintain for non-economic reasons can be an important determinant of regional economic growth. We show that West German households who have social ties to East Germany in 1989 experience a persistent rise in their personal incomes after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Moreover, the presence of these households significantly affects economic performance at the regional level: it increases the returns to entrepreneurial activity, the share of households who become entrepreneurs, and the likelihood that firms based within a given West German region invest in East Germany. As a result, West German regions which (for idiosyncratic reasons) have a high concentration of households with social ties to the East exhibit substantially higher growth in income per capita in the early 1990s. A one standard deviation rise in the share of households with social ties to East Germany in 1989 is associated with a 4.7 percentage point rise in income per capita over six years. We interpret our findings as evidence of a causal link between social ties and regional economic development.

Suggested Citation

  • Burchardi, Konrad B. & Hassan, Tarek, 2011. "The Economic Impact of Social Ties: Evidence from German Reunification," CEPR Discussion Papers 8470, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8470
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    Keywords

    economic development; German Reunification; migration; networks; social ties;

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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