Distrust in Finance Lingers: Jewish Persecution and Households' Investments
Marcel Prokopczuk (),
Francesco D'Acunto and
Michael Weber ()
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Francesco D'Acunto: University of California at Berkeley
No 26, 2015 Meeting Papers from Society for Economic Dynamics
We look at the geography of historical Jewish persecution to proxy for localized distrust in finance. Households in German counties where Jewish persecution was one standard deviation higher are 7.5% to 12% less likely to invest in stocks. The results hold when comparing only geographically close counties, and counties that hosted documented Jewish communities in the distant past. Current antisemitism, discriminatory beliefs, generalized trust, or supply-side forces do not explain the effect, which instead is consistent with a norm of distrust in finance, transmitted across generations. The forced migrations of Jewish communities across the German lands in the Middle Ages help assess if the effect of Jewish persecution on stockholdings is causal.
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