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Family and politics: does parental unemployment cause right-wing extremism?

  • Siedler, Thomas

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 different German data sets show a positive relationship between growing up with unemployed parents and right-wing extremism, with xenophobia in particular. This paper uses 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. This is 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 Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2006-51.

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Date of creation: 02 Nov 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2006-51
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