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Why are East Germans not More Mobile? Analyzing the Impact of Social Ties on Regional Migration

Individuals’ preferences in transition regions are still shaped by the former communist system. We test this ‘Communism legacy’ hypothesis by examining the impact of acculturation in a communist regime on social network participation and, as a consequence, on preferences for spatial mobility. We focus on the paradigmatic case of East Germany where mobility intentions seem to be substantially weaker than in the western part. Applying an IV ordered probit approach we firstly find that East German people acculturated in a Communist system are more invested in locally bounded informal social capital than West Germans. Secondly, we confirm that membership in such locally bounded social networks reduces the intention to move away. Thirdly, after controlling for the social network effect the mobility gap between East and West substantially reduces. Low spatial mobility of the eastern population, we conclude, is to an important part attributable to a social capital endowment characteristic to post-communist economies.

07. September 2010

Authors Peter Bönisch Lutz Schneider

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