IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Dialects, Cultural Identity, and Economic Exchange

  • Falck, Oliver
  • Heblich, Stephan
  • Lameli, Alfred
  • Sudekum, Jens

We study the effect of cultural ties on economic exchange using a novel measure for cultural identity: dialect similarity across regions of the same country. We evaluate linguistic micro-data from a unique language survey conducted between 1879 and 1888 in about 45,000 German schools. The recorded geography of dialects comprehensively portrays local cultural ties that have been evolving for centuries, and provides an ideal opportunity to measure cul-tural barriers to economic exchange. In a gravity analysis, we then show that cross-regional migration flows in the period 2000-2006 are positively affected by historical dialect similari-ty. Using different empirical strategies, we show that this finding indicates highly time-persistent cultural borders that impede economic exchange even at a fine geographical scale.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Stirling, Division of Economics in its series Stirling Economics Discussion Papers with number 2011-01.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:stl:stledp:2011-01
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Division of Economics, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA

Phone: +44 (0)1786 467473
Fax: +44 (0)1786 467469
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2009. "Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1095-1131.
  2. Becker, Sascha O. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2007. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," Discussion Papers in Economics 1366, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Glaeser, Edward L., 1999. "Learning in Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 254-277, September.
  4. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Culture and Language," NBER Working Papers 5249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  6. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2007. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," NBER Working Papers 12927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Tabuchi, Takatoshi & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 2002. "Taste heterogeneity, labor mobility and economic geography," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 155-177, October.
  8. Stephen J. Redding & Daniel M. Sturm, 2008. "The Costs of Remoteness: Evidence from German Division and Reunification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1766-97, December.
  9. Di Addario, Sabrina, 2011. "Job search in thick markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 303-318, May.
  10. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2011. "How many languages do we need? The economics of Linguistic Diversity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/152424, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  11. Nico Voigtländer & Joachim Voth, 2011. "Persecution perpetuated: The medieval origins of anti-semitic violence in Nazi Germany," Economics Working Papers 1269, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  12. Santos Silva, J.M.C & Tenreyro, Silvana, 2005. "The Log of Gravity," CEPR Discussion Papers 5311, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Benabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2004. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," Papers 08-15-2005a, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  14. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2006. "The Diffusion of Development," NBER Working Papers 12153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jennifer Hunt, 2006. "Staunching Emigration from East Germany: Age and the Determinants of Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(5), pages 1014-1037, 09.
  16. Nicolai V. Kuminoff & V. Kerry Smith & Christopher Timmins, 2010. "The New Economics of Equilibrium Sorting and its Transformational Role for Policy Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 16349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. William R. Kerr, 2009. "Breakthrough Inventions and Migrating Clusters of Innovation," NBER Working Papers 15443, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Guido Tabellini, 2010. "Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 677-716, 06.
  19. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-99, June.
  20. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance," Scholarly Articles 4553005, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  21. Schwartz, Aba, 1973. "Interpreting the Effect of Distance on Migration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(5), pages 1153-69, Sept.-Oct.
  22. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Toubal, Farid, 2006. "Cultural proximity and trade," Tübinger Diskussionsbeiträge 305, University of Tübingen, School of Business and Economics.
  23. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent & Roux, Sébastien, 2008. "Estimating Agglomeration Economies with History, Geology, and Worker Effects," CEPR Discussion Papers 6728, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  24. Kaivan Munshi, 2003. "Networks in the Modern Economy: Mexican Migrants in the U. S. Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 549-599.
  25. Davide Cantoni, 2010. "The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands," Working Papers 524, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  26. Jeffrey Grogger, 2011. "Speech Patterns and Racial Wage Inequality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(1), pages 1-25.
  27. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487.
  28. Peri, Giovanni, 2002. "Young workers, learning, and agglomerations," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 582-607, November.
  29. Giuliano, Paola & Spilimbergo, Antonio & Tonon, Giovanni, 2006. "Genetic, Cultural and Geographical Distances," IZA Discussion Papers 2229, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  30. Pissarides, Christopher A & McMaster, Ian, 1990. "Regional Migration, Wages and Unemployment: Empirical Evidence and Implications for Policy," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(4), pages 812-31, October.
  31. Ajay Agrawal & Devesh Kapur & John McHale, 2008. "Brain Drain or Brain Bank? The Impact of Skilled Emigration on Poor-Country Innovation," NBER Working Papers 14592, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Guido Tabellini, 2008. "Presidential Address Institutions and Culture," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 255-294, 04-05.
  33. Murata, Yasusada, 2003. "Product diversity, taste heterogeneity, and geographic distribution of economic activities:: market vs. non-market interactions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 126-144, January.
  34. James E. Rauch & Vitor Trindade, 2002. "Ethnic Chinese Networks In International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 116-130, February.
  35. Carrington, William J & Detragiache, Enrica & Vishwanath, Tara, 1996. "Migration with Endogenous Moving Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 909-30, September.
  36. Anne-Célia Disdier & Keith Head, 2004. "The Puzzling Persistence of the Distance Effect on Bilateral Trade," Development Working Papers 186, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
  37. Klaus Desmet & Michel Breton & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Shlomo Weber, 2011. "The stability and breakup of nations: a quantitative analysis," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 183-213, September.
  38. Dahl, Michael S. & Sorenson, Olav, 2010. "The migration of technical workers," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 33-45, January.
  39. McDuff, DeForest, 2011. "Demand substitution across US cities: Observable similarity and home price correlation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 1-14, July.
  40. Melitz, Jacques, 2008. "Language and foreign trade," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 667-699, May.
  41. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
  42. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00641280 is not listed on IDEAS
  43. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2001. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 8079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  44. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
  45. Greenwood, Michael J, 1975. "Research on Internal Migration in the United States: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 397-433, June.
  46. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "An Economic Approach to Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 437-458, November.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:stl:stledp:2011-01. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Liam Delaney)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.