Calamities, Common Interests, Shared Identity: What Shapes Social Cohesion in Europe?

Cevat Giray Aksoy (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, King's College London and IZA), Antonio Cabrales (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid), Mathias Dolls (ifo Institute, CESifo, IZA and ZEW), Ruben Durante (ICREA, UPF, IPEG, Barcelona School of Economics, and CEPR), Lisa Windsteiger (Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance

We conduct a large-scale incentivized survey experiment in nine EU countries to study how priming common economic interests (EU trade), a shared identity (EU common values), and a major health crisis (COVID-19), influences altruism, reciprocity and trust of EU citizens. We find that the COVID-19 treatment increases altruism and reciprocity towards compatriots, as well as altruism towards citizens of other EU countries. The EU common values treatment has similar effects and in addition also boosts reciprocity towards fellow Europeans. The EU trade treatment has no tangible impact on behavior. Trust in others is not affected by any treatment. Our results suggest that both a shared identity and a shared crisis can have a unifying effect among EU citizens, while shared economic interests (alone) do not significantly affect European cohesion.


Cevat Giray Aksoy, Antonio Cabrales, Mathias Dolls, Ruben Durante, Lisa Windsteiger: "Calamities, Common Interests, Shared Identity: What Shapes Social Cohesion in Europe?", EconPol Working Paper 64, May 2021