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Dialects, Cultural Identity, and Economic Exchange

Author

Listed:
  • Falck, Oliver

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Heblich, Stephan

    () (University of Bristol)

  • Lameli, Alfred

    () (University of Marburg)

  • Suedekum, Jens

    () (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Falck, Oliver & Heblich, Stephan & Lameli, Alfred & Suedekum, Jens, 2010. "Dialects, Cultural Identity, and Economic Exchange," IZA Discussion Papers 4743, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4743
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    Keywords

    dialects; language; culture; internal migration; gravity; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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