EAST GERMAN AND WEST GERMANY—THE NATURAL EXPERIMENT. I posted here about how the success of FREAKONOMICS had influenced young economists to seek out “natural experiments”, where the problems of multiple causation can be avoided. East Germany and West Germany present a number of natural experiments (as do, with more complications, North Korea and South Korea). This article by by Leon Neyfakh in the Boston Globe (October 12, 2014) reports on the political and sociological effects of the Berlin Wall. (link via artsandlettersdaily)

Some findings:

One study based on 1997 data (8 years after the fall of the Wall) found that the former East Germans “were … more likely to support a robust government program to help the unemployed, and significantly more inclined to believe that social conditions, rather than individual will, determined a person’s lot in life.” Data from 2002 showed that the views of West Germans and East Germans on the role of the state had begun to converge, but that it was estimated that it would take 20 to 40 years for complete convergence.

East Germans “were significantly more likely to believe that men and women are equal”.

The extensive spying on citizens by the East German stasi had had a long-lasting effect. According to one study, “East Germans were much less trusting toward other people than their counterparts.”

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