Goodbye Lenin, Hello Murat? The Effect of Communism on Individual Attitudes Toward Immigration (thesis)
This paper argues conceptually and demonstrates empirically that individual attitudes toward immigration are deeply affected by a country’s politico-economic legacy. Drawing on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel and exploiting a quasi-natural experiment arising from the historic division of Germany into East and West, I show that former East Germans are, because of their exposure to communism, notably more likely to be very concerned about immigration than former West Germans that were never exposed to the communist regime. The effect of living in East Germany is driven by those former East Germans that were actually born during, and not prior to the imposition of, the communist rule. I further find that differences in attitudes persist over time following reunification and that the level of trust in strangers and contact with foreigners represent two salient channels through which communism affects individual preferences toward immigration.