Let Bygones Be Bygones? Socialist Regimes and Personalities in Germany

76 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2015

See all articles by Tim Friehe

Tim Friehe

University of Konstanz - Department of Economics

Markus Pannenberg

University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld - Department of Business and Economics; DIW Berlin - GSOEP; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn

Michael Wedow

European Central Bank (ECB) - Directorate Financial Stability and Supervision

Date Written: July 27, 2015

Abstract

This paper investigates the influence of political regimes on personality, using the separation of Germany into the socialist GDR and the democratic FRG and its reunification in 1990 as a natural experiment. We show that there are significant differences between former GDR and FRG residents regarding important attributes of personality (particularly the locus of control, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness). To understand the influence of the GDR’s socialist regime on personality, we test an important channel by exploiting regional variation in the number of unofficial state-security collaborators across East German counties. Our results indicate that local surveillance intensity is indeed an important determinant of the personality of former GDR citizens. The differences in personality imply that former citizens of the GDR have economic prospects rather different from former FRG citizens and help to understand behavioral differences established in the prior literature.

Keywords: personality, political regime, East Germany, socialism, Big Five, locus of control, SOEP

JEL Classification: D030, D120, D630

Suggested Citation

Friehe, Tim and Pannenberg, Markus and Wedow, Michael, Let Bygones Be Bygones? Socialist Regimes and Personalities in Germany (July 27, 2015). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5440, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2636243

Tim Friehe (Contact Author)

University of Konstanz - Department of Economics ( email )

Konstanz, D-78457
Germany

Markus Pannenberg

University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld - Department of Business and Economics ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 25
Bielefeld, D-33615
Germany
+49 521 106-5076 (Phone)
+49 521 106-5086 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://aix5.fh-bielefeld.de/~mpannenb/index.html

DIW Berlin - GSOEP ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Michael Wedow

European Central Bank (ECB) - Directorate Financial Stability and Supervision ( email )

Frankfurt a.M.
Germany

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