IZA Discussion Paper No. 4743February 2010
ABSTRACTDialects, Cultural Identity, and Economic Exchange
We investigate whether time-persistent cultural borders impede economic exchange acrossregions of the same country. To measure cultural differences we evaluate, for the first time ineconomics, linguistic micro-data about phonological and grammatical features of Germandialects. These data are taken from a unique linguistic survey conducted between 1879 and1888 in 45,000 schools. Matching this information to 439 current German regions, weconstruct a dialect similarity matrix. Using a gravity analysis, we show that current cross-regional migration is positively affected by historical dialect similarity. This suggests thatcultural identities formed in the past still influence economic exchange today.JEL Classification: R23, Z10, J61Keywords: dialects, language, culture, internal migration, gravity, GermanyCorresponding author:Jens SüdekumUniversity of Duisburg-EssenMercator School of ManagementLotharstrasse 6547057 DuisburgGermanyEmail: email@example.com
We thank Kristian Behrens, Davide Cantoni, Klaus Desmet, Gilles Duranton, Claudia Goldin, HubertJayet, William Kerr, Mario Larch, Yasu Murata, Jost Nickel, Marcello Pagnini, Marco Percoco, KlausSchmidt, Matthew Turner, and seminar participants at the North American Regional Science (NARSC)Annual Meeting 2009 in San Francisco and the American Economic Association Annual Meeting 2010in Atlanta for insightful comments and suggestions. Parts of this paper were written while Falck wasvisiting Harvard University and Heblich was visiting the University of Toronto. They acknowledge thehospitality of these institutions. All errors and shortcomings are solely our responsibility.