I have often argued that Communism “froze” social attitudes in the socialist bloc relative to the West, which was strongly influenced by the US.
Here’s another recent article making this point:
* Matthew Carl (2018) – The Effect of Communism on People’s Attitudes Toward Immigration
Does living in a communist regime make a person more concerned about immigration? This paper argues conceptually and demonstrates empirically that people’s attitudes toward immigration are affected by their country’s politico-economic legacy. Exploiting a quasi-natural experiment arising from the historic division of Germany into East and West, I show that former East Germans, because of their exposure to communism, are notably more likely to be very concerned about immigration than former West Germans. Opposite of what existing literature finds, higher educational attainment in East Germany actually increases concerns. Further, I find that the effect of living in East Germany is driven by former East Germans who were born during, and not before, the communist rule and that differences in attitudes persist even after Germany’s reunification. People’s trust in strangers and contact with foreigners represent two salient channels through which communism affects people’s preferences toward immigration.
In Russia, more education is also associated with marginally greater immigration skepticism.
Further, the results indicate that attitudes among former East and West Germans have not converged since reunification, a finding consistent with evidence in development psychology and the socialization theory that preferences developed early in life will persist. Also in line with this conceptual framework, I find that the effect of communism is most pronounced among individuals who were born in the regime, while former East Germans who were born before communist rule express considerably less concern about immigration than the generations that followed. Finally, I find that two conceptually and empirically salient channels for the observed effect of communism on attitudes toward immigration are people’s level of trust in strangers and contact with foreigners.
One wonders how long these lines will last. After all, the old imperial borders before WW1 can still be discerned in socio-economic outcomes across East-Central Europe.
In other news: The AfD has become the most popular party in the f.East Germany.