CEPII, Recherche et Expertise sur l'economie mondiale
The Effect of Labor Migration on the Diffusion of Democracy: Evidence from a Former Soviet Republic

Toman Barsbai
Hillel Rapoport
Andreas Steinmayr
Christoph Trebesch

 Highlights :
  • The paper shows that emigration had a significant role in shaping political outcome (election results) in Moldova during the last 15 years.
  • The results are suggestive of diffusion of preferences for democracy through migration networks.
  • Identification relies on the quasi-expreimental context at hand and the fact the emigration was directed both to less democratic Russia and to more democratic Western European countries.

 Abstract :
Migration contributes to the circulation of goods, knowledge, and ideas. Using community and individual-level data from Moldova, we show that the emigration wave that started in the aftermath of the Russian crisis of 1998 strongly affected electoral outcomes and political preferences in Moldova during the following decade, eventually contributing to the fall of the last Communist government in Europe. Our results are suggestive of information transmission and cultural diffusion channels. Identification relies on the quasi-experimental context and on the differential effects arising from the fact that emigration was directed both to more democratic Western Europe and to less democratic Russia.

 Keywords : Emigration | Political institutions | Elections | Social networks | Information transmission | Cultural diffusion

 JEL : F22, D72, O1
CEPII Working Paper
N°2016-26, September 2016

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