Kai Gehring (University of Zurich) - External threats and group identity - The effect of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine on European Union identity

Can external threats strengthen group identities? A growing economics literature emphasizes the importance of cultural attributes such as identity for trust and cooperation. However, where these attributes come from is not well-understood. This paper examines reactions to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, looking at European Union member states. Comparing low- versus high-threat states in a difference-indifferences design, I find a sizable and persistent positive effect on EU identity. It is associated with higher trust in EU institutions and support for common policies. Lower-level identities remain unaffected and distance to Russia and Russian minority size are driving high-threat status.

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