How do the media affect public support for democratic institutions in a fragile democracy? What role do they play in a dictatorial regime? We study these questions in the context of Germany of the 1920s and 1930s. During the democratic period, when the Weimar government introduced progovernment political news, the growth of Nazi popularity slowed down in areas with access to radio. This effect was reversed during the campaign for the last competitive election as a result of the pro-Nazi radio broadcast following Hitler’s appointment as chancellor. During the consolidation of dictatorship, radio propaganda helped the Nazis enroll new party members. After the Nazis established their rule, radio propaganda incited anti-Semitic acts and denunciations of Jews to authorities by ordinary citizens. The effect of anti-Semitic propaganda varied depending on the listeners’ predispositions toward the message. Nazi radio was most effective in places where anti-Semitism was historically high and had a negative effect in places with historically low anti-Semitism.
We investigate the connection between privatization in post-communist Russia and a mass privatization reform in Imperial Russia, the 1906 Stolypin land reform. Specifically, we relate historical measures of conflicts associated with the Stolypin reform to contemporary views on whether the privatization of the 1990s should be revised. These historical measures could influence contemporary views in two ways: first, differences in privatization-related conflicts in the past could have directly altered attitudes towards privatization in the 1990s and, second, these differences could merely reflect pre-determined dissimilarities in preferences. We first show that historical measures of resistance to privatization are associated with views that favor state ownership. One standard deviation increase in the historical resistance to privatization explains a quarter of the negative sentiment toward private property today. We also find that negative experiences with the Stolypin reform are associated with views on the procedural unfairness of modern privatization reforms, suggesting that pre-determined preferences cannot fully explain the weight of history.
Using comparable 2002–2011 data, we examine the effect of oil on growth of Russia’s regions and American states. Although Russia’s oil regions are richer than other regions, they did not grow faster, while US oil producers grew faster than other states. We attribute these differences to different taxation systems in Russia and the United States, with the Russian central government taxing away a larger share of incremental oil rents in the 2000s than did its US counterpart. Moreover, although oil rents attracted labor to oil-producing regions both in Russia and the United States, only in the US oil rents led to higher investment growth.