When autocrats fail: Bismarck and the socialists

Category: Applied Microeconomics and Organization Seminar
When: 03 November 2021
, 14:15
 - 15:30
Where: Frankfurt School

Title: When autocrats fail: Bismarck and the socialists


In this paper, I examine whether autocratic regimes can weaken their opposition by employing a carrot and stick strategy. I analyze Bismarck’s famous attempts to reduce support for the socialist party by introducing social insurance and repressive anti-socialist laws in late 19th century Germany. In contrast to Bismarck’s goal, I find that the socialist party gained in constituencies more affected by his policies. For identification, I exploit local and industry-specific variation in treatment intensity due to ex-ante existing local healthcare and detailed lists on forbidden socialist organizations. This variation allows me to use a difference-in-differences as well as a shift-share approach. As mechanisms, I highlight that the socialist party attained power of interpretation over the policies and successfully evaded the policies by moving its activities into the underground and exploiting one loophole in the health insurance.

Organization of the seminar:

  • This seminar is planned as face-to-face event at the Frankfurt School.
  • The 3G rule applies to participation in the seminar, i.e. you can only take part in person, if you are either vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid. Please carry the respective certificate with you.
  • There is a general obligation to wear medical masks in the buildings of Frankfurt School and Goethe University. The obligation to wear medical masks may be omitted based on a distance and hygiene concept after reaching a seat.
  • Detailed information will follow in the invitation email