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Dialects, Cultural Identity, and Economic Exchange

  • Falck, Oliver

    ()

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Heblich, Stephan

    ()

    (University of Bristol)

  • Lameli, Alfred

    ()

    (University of Marburg)

  • Suedekum, Jens

    ()

    (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)

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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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4743.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Urban Economics, 2012, 72 (2–3), 225–239
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4743
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