European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 1–63 | Cite as

Economic well-being and anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and racist attitudes in Germany

  • Naci Mocan
  • Christian Raschke


The fear and hatred of others who are different has economic consequences because such feelings are likely to translate into discrimination in labor, credit, housing, and other markets. The implications range from earnings inequality to intergenerational mobility. Using German data from 1996 and 2006, we analyze the determinants of racist and xenophobic feelings towards foreigners in general, and against specific groups such as Italians, Turks, and Asylum Seekers. We also analyze racist and anti-Semitic feelings towards German citizens who differ in ethnicity (Aussiedler from Eastern Europe) or in religion (German Jews). Individuals’ perceived (or actual) economic well-being is negatively related to the strength of these feelings. Education, and having contact with foreigners mitigate racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic feelings. People who live in states which had provided above-median support of the Nazi party in the 1928 elections have stronger anti-Semitic feelings today. The results are not gender-driven. They are not an artifact of economic conditions triggering feelings about job priority for German males, and they are not fully driven by fears about foreigners taking away jobs. The results of the paper are consistent with the model of Glaeser (Q J Econ 120(1):45–86, 2005) on hate, and with that of Akerlof and Kranton (Q J Econ 105(3):715–753, 2000; J Econ Perspect 19(1):9–32, 2005) on identity in the utility function.


Economic conditions Anti-Semitism Xenophobia Racism Immigration Aussiedler Asylum 

JEL Classification

K0 J7 Z1 



We thank Luiza Pogorelova and Bahadir Dursun for research assistance. Anna Piil Damm, Marianne Simonsen, Alex Koch, Leyla Mocan, Carmine Guerriero, James Garand, and seminar participants at Aarhus University, Galatasaray University, LSU, and the 2014 European Association of Law and Economics Conference in Aix-En-Provence, and especially two anonymous referees provided helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Louisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.NBERCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.IZABonnGermany
  4. 4.Sam Houston State UniversityHuntsvilleUSA

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