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How Would your Kids Vote if I Open my Doors? Evidence from Venezuela

By Francisco Rodriguez and Rodrigo Wagner

Abstract

For how long does cultural heritage persist? Do the culturally inherited values of immigrants dilute as generations pass? We answer these question by studying the relationship between revealed political behavior of immigrant families and the culture of the place where they migrated from, either one or many generations ago. Using surnames as indicators of region of origin of Italians in Venezuela, we study the effect of cultural heritage on two indicators of revealed political behavior: (i) propensity for civic engagement, and (ii) propensity for redistribution. A well established literature documents greater propensity for civic engagement and lower propensity for redistribution among Northern Italians. In Venezuela, we measure the former by turnout before the era of political polarization and the latter by signing behavior against Hugo Chávez in the 2004 recall referendum drive. Despite the fact that the wave of Italian immigration to Venezuela occurred more than half a century before the events studied in this paper, we do not find a greater propensity for civic engagement nor preference against redistribution among descendants from Northern as opposed to Southern Italians, suggesting that cultural assimilation may be a strong determinant of political behavior in the long run.

Topics: F22 - International Migration, Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology, P26 - Political Economy; Property Rights
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de:19223

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