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Bowling for fascism: Social capital and the rise of the Nazi Party in Weimar Germany, 1919-33

Author

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  • Shanker Satyanath
  • Nico Voigtländer
  • Joachim Voth

Abstract

Social capital – a dense network of associations facilitating cooperation within a community – typically leads to positive political and economic outcomes, as demonstrated by a large literature following Putnam. A growing literature emphasizes the potentially "dark side" of social capital. This paper examines the role of social capital in the downfall of democracy in interwar Germany by analyzing Nazi party entry rates in a cross-section of towns and cities. Before the Nazi Party's triumphs at the ballot box, it built an extensive organizational structure, becoming a mass movement with nearly a million members by early 1933. We show that dense networks of civic associations such as bowling clubs, animal breeder associations, or choirs facilitated the rise of the Nazi Party. The effects are large: Towns with one standard deviation higher association density saw at least one-third faster growth in the strength of the Nazi Party. IV results based on 19th century measures of social capital reinforce our conclusions. In addition, all types of associations – veteran associations and non-military clubs, "bridging" and "bonding" associations – positively predict NS party entry. These results suggest that social capital in Weimar Germany aided the rise of the Nazi movement that ultimately destroyed Germany's first democracy.

Suggested Citation

  • Shanker Satyanath & Nico Voigtländer & Joachim Voth, 2013. "Bowling for fascism: Social capital and the rise of the Nazi Party in Weimar Germany, 1919-33," Economics Working Papers 1375, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1375
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    Cited by:

    1. Spenkuch, Jörg & Tillmann, Philipp, 2014. "Elite Influence? Religion, Economics, and the Rise of the Nazis," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100491, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Sergei Guriev & Maxim Ananiev, 2015. "Effect of Income on Trust: Evidence from the 2009 Crisis in Russia," Sciences Po publications 2015-02, Sciences Po.
    3. Melissa Dell & Nathaniel Lane & Pablo Querubin, 2017. "The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam," NBER Working Papers 23208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Maja Adena & Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Veronica Santarosa & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2015. "Radio and the Rise of The Nazis in Prewar Germany," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1885-1939.
    5. Maxim Ananiev & Sergei Guriev, 2014. "The Effect of Income on Trust: the Evidence from 2009 Crisis in Russia," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/8lt2edmul9g, Sciences Po.
    6. Pauline Grosjean, 2014. "Conflict and Social and Political Preferences: Evidence from World War II and Civil Conflict in 35 European Countries," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 56(3), pages 424-451, September.
    7. Geerling, Wayne & Magee, Gary B. & Brooks, Robert, 2015. "Cooperation, defection and resistance in Nazi Germany," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 125-139.
    8. Marco Paccagnella & Paolo Sestito, 2014. "School cheating and social capital," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(4), pages 367-388, August.
    9. repec:eee:jpolmo:v:39:y:2017:i:5:p:790-808 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Matthias Blum & Alan de Bromhead, 2017. "Rise and Fall in the Third Reich: Social Mobility and Nazi Membership," Economics Working Papers 17-01, Queen's Management School, Queen's University Belfast.
    11. Charron, Nicholas & Rothstein, Bo, 2016. "Does education lead to higher generalized trust? The importance of quality of government," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 59-73.
    12. SHIMAMOTO Daichi & TODO Yasuyuki, 2015. "Economic and Political Networks and Firm Openness: Evidence from Indonesia," Discussion papers 15084, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    13. Lisa D. Cook & Trevon D. Logan & John M. Parman, 2017. "Racial Segregation and Southern Lynching," NBER Working Papers 23813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Margarita Gáfaro & Ana Maria Ibáñez & Patricia Justino, 2014. "Local Institutions and Armed Group Presence in Colombia," HiCN Working Papers 178, Households in Conflict Network.
    15. Margarita Gáfaro & Ana Maria Ibáñez & Patricia Justino, 2014. "Collective Action and Armed Group Presence in Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 011951, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social capital; democracy; political economy; Weimar Germany; Nazi Party;

    JEL classification:

    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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