Arnaud Chevalier, Olivier Marie, 08 November 2014

Children born in crises face different initial conditions. Data on children born in East Germany just after the Berlin Wall came down confirms that this corresponds to worse adult outcomes. ‘Children of the Wall’ have 40% higher arrest rates, are 33% more likely to have repeated a grade by age 12, and are 9% more likely to have been put into a lower educational track. This column argues that these negative outcomes can be explained by the lower average parenting skills of those who decided to have children during a period of high economic uncertainty.

Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, 06 November 2014

A quarter of a century ago, the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall were demolished. This was one of the most visible consequences of the fall of communism. In the decades before 1989 political conflict had shaped the world trade pattern. Against the background of political tensions in the Ukraine, this column investigates the vulnerability of the world trade system.

Michael Burda, 09 November 2009

East Germany has done better than other ex-communist states, but it has not caught up to West Germany. There were two key mistakes – using politically expedient but highly distortionary payroll taxes to fund social buy-outs and trying to resist agglomeration effects by spreading money thinly across every town and village. This column argues that closing the gap will be tough, since convergence will come only when East Germany has the same level of social, institutional, business, and marketing infrastructure.

Nikolaus Wolf, Volker Nitsch, 09 November 2009

The fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago created a number of "natural experiments" that economists have exploited to advance our understanding of fundamental issues. This column reviews the use of German data to examine the surprisingly large impact that international borders have in geographically dampening buying and selling patterns. Its results show that the biggest barriers to trade stem from economic fundamentals rather than technological and political barriers. Infrastructure and tariffs can come done quickly; it takes at least a generation to tear down the wall in our minds.

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