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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
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Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2006-51
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  1. Thomas Siedler & Jürgen Schupp & C. Katharina Spieß & Gert G. Wagner, 2008. "The German Socio-Economic Panel as a Reference Data Set," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 150, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
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  8. Armin Falk & Andreas Kuhn & Josef Zweimüller, 2011. "Unemployment and Right‐wing Extremist Crime," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113, pages 260-285, 06.
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  12. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
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  14. Richard V. Burkhauser & Michaela Kreyenfeld & Gert G. Wagner, 1997. "The German Socio-Economic Panel: A Representative Sample of Reunited Germany and its Parts," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 66(1), pages 7-16.
  15. John F. Ermisch & Marco Francesconi, 2001. "Family structure and children's achievements," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 249-270.
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