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Does Parental Unemployment Cause Right-Wing Extremism?

  • Thomas Siedler

Recent years have witnessed a rise in right-wing extremism among German youth and young adults. This paper investigates the extent to which the experience of parental unemployment during childhood affects young people's far right-wing attitudes and xenophobia. Estimates from three German data sets show a positive relationship between growing up with unemployed parents and right-wing extremism, with xenophobia in particular. This paper uses stark differences in unemployment levels between East and West Germany, both before and after reunification, to investigate a causal relationship. Instrumental variables estimates suggest strong and significant effects of parental unemployment on right-wing extremism. Various panel estimates also point to a positive relationship. The results are consistent with classical theories of economic interest and voting behaviour which predict that persons who develop feelings of economic insecurity are more susceptible to right-wing extremism and anti-foreign sentiments.

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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 666.

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Length: 50 p.
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp666
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