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Let Bygones be Bygones? Socialist Regimes and Personalities in Germany

Tim Friehe, Markus Pannenberg and Michael Wedow ()

No 5440, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo Group Munich

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 inuence 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 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D03 D12 D63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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