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- Historical negative exposure to actions of nation-states affects attitudes towards EU
-Leasds to stronger EU support, less Eurosceptism
-Socio-economics factors can't explain change
-EU identity became stronger, not caused by economic benefits
Cooperation in International organizations is one proposed way to maintain peace between nation-states that were formerly bitter enemies. The European Union is the most ambitious of these attempts, and at least no major conflict among member-states since WW2.
Currently lot of dissatisfaction with EU, e.g. #Brexit Brexit, low turnout at EU elections, rise of Eurosceptic parties #LePen #Salvini
EU support is still quite high or keeps increasing in some regions and countries, but not in others.
Need to better understand sources of existing differences in EU support. Some good prior evidence (e.g. @CatherineDVries & @sarahobolt) but mostly focusing on personal (education) and country-specific domestic political factors to explain existing differences.
This paper builds on the observation that regions with tensions with their nation-state,
like Scotland, South Tyrole, Catalonia, the Basque country show high EU support.
Tensions can stem from changing nation-status after wars or generally repressive policies against region.
I use the quasi-random split of Alsace and Lorraine border regions between France and Germany after Franco-Prussian war in 1870, due to differing interests in the German leadership, to provide causal evidence about EU support within formerly homogenous regions.
Hypothesis: The part more negatively affected by actions of nation-states chose higher EU support. Control area experienced only "normal" exposure, treated area had to change nation-status, was exposed to repressive policies by German and later French nation-state until 1950s.
EU can constrain the action of its member nation-states through a variety of mechanisms. To some extent the Commission, to some extent the council and parliament, quite importantly the European Court of Justice. Not perfect control, but all else equal, some control.
Identification through geographic RDD design at the border.
No evidence of pre-treatments discontinuities in geographic and socio-economic measures.
Also no pre-differences in Cahiers de Doleance, historical "survey" conducted by Louis XVI.
Main outcome: Agreement in three referenda on deepening European integration, as well as on wood chair and success of Euroskeptic parties and positions.
The part more negatively exposed to actions of nation-states shows higher EU support and lower Euroskepticism.
Results holds when excluding formerly German-dialect speaking municipalities in the treatment and control part.
Mechanisms: No evidence for changes at the border due to migration, several socio-economic measures that affect EU support prior studies, and public good provision.
Mechanisms 2: evidence that European identity was strengthened in the treated part. But evidence of this change in European identity was not caused by a higher perceived economic benefit for the treated part.
Sensitivity: three important placebo tests, using old borders, comparison between other order départements and their more nearest central neighbors, and shifting treatment border one départements further towards the center.
This paper to provide causal evidence about a deep-rooted source of European Union support. Some interesting evidence about changes in identity. Also strongly related to my paper with @sirdeh, which uses the same identification strategy, but considers regional identity.
The appendix has some evidence on whether nested identities (regional, national, EU) are substitutes or complements. Turns out they seem to depend on whether they are perceived as being aligned. Both regional and European are strengthened in treated part.
Both allow citizens apparently to express their stronger reservations/worries about the nation-state. Political consequences. Treated area would both prefer to move policies to either regional OR EU level, just away from nation-state.
There should also be a new version of my paper on regional identity with @sirdeh soon. It has some very interesting new evidence about the mechanisms citizens use to maintain regional identity when the nation-state suppresses it and a nice simple model to explain such changes.
Relevance for politics and economics (if you wonder):
- Very important for allocation of decision-making competences, #fiscalfederalism
- Consequences of repressive policies, e.g. Uighurs in China or Kurds in Turkey
- Helps to understand regions with separatist tendencies
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