Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar
Mathias Thoenig

The Refugee’s Dilemma: Evidence from Jewish Migration out of Nazi Germany

Mathias Thoenig, Professor in Economics at University of Lausanne
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Maison de la paix (Geneva), Room S5 Petal 1

The Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar is the Economics department's weekly seminar, featuring external speakers in all areas of economics.

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As part of the Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar series, the International Economics Department at the Graduate Institute is pleased to invite you to a public talk given by Mathias Thoenig, Professor in Economics and co-director of the Department of Economics at the School of Business and Economics (HEC), University of Lausanne. He will present his research entitled The Refugee’s Dilemma: Evidence from Jewish Migration out of Nazi Germany


By the end of 1938, more than two-thirds of the Jewish community was still located in Germany. In this paper we estimate the push and pull factors involved in the outmigration of Jews facing persecution in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1942. Our empirical investigation makes use of a unique individual-level dataset that records the migration history of almost the entire universe of Jews living in Germany over the period. Our analysis highlights new channels, specific to violent contexts, through which social networks affect the decision to flee. We first estimate a structural model of migration where individuals base their own migration decision on the observation of persecution and migration among their peers. Identification rests on exogenous variations in push and pull factors across peers who live in different cities of residence. Then we perform counterfactual policy experiments in order to quantify how migration restrictions in destination countries affected the fate of Jews.



Matias Thoenig is also a CEPR Research Fellow in the international trade and macro programs and an elected Council Member of the European Economic Association. He received his Ph.D. from University Paris-1 and his B.A. in engineering from Ecole Polytechnique. His research interests include development, international trade and political economy of conflicts.