The Long Hand of the Habsburg Empire: Becker and Woessmann

Ok, this was a big folk hypothesis among the inhabitants of the former Habsburg regions but now we have the empirical confirmation.
“The results show that past formal institutions can leave a long-lasting legacy through cultural norms – even after some are generations of being governed by other authorities. Nearly a century after its demise, the Habsburg Empire lives on in the people living within its former borders – in their attitudes towards and interactions with local state institutions. Comparing individuals living on either side of the long-gone Habsburg border within the same modern-day country, we find that respondents in a current household survey who live on former Habsburg territory have higher levels of trust in courts and police. They are also less likely to pay bribes for these local public services, demonstrating that the institutional heritage influences not only preferences and unilateral decisions but also bilateral bargaining situations in citizen-state interactions.

The specific mechanisms through which the Habsburg effect prevailed remain an open question for future research. The substantial waves of migration and displacement that accompanied the institutional disruptions in the successor states of the Habsburg Empire suggest that the cultural norms of behaviour are unlikely to have survived solely by intergenerational transmission within families. It rather seems that such channels as the persistent nature of continuous reciprocal interactions in local communities, the content of knowledge and behavioural patterns conveyed in schools, and the quality of human capital of bureaucrats and citizens may have also played a role”

Full text is here


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