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Austerity as violence: measuring the effects of economic austerity on pro-sociality

By Nicholas Sambanis, Anna Schultz and Elena Nikolova

A new EBRD Working Paper (number 220)

How does economic hardship affect social preferences? Do people feel more solidarity with one another, as often happens after natural disasters? Or does it reduce pro-sociality by making social divisions more salient? We address these questions by analysing the social effects of economic austerity in Greece, where the population experienced several phases of fiscal adjustment during a period of near-constant economic decline between 2010 and 2015. We focus on the effects of joblessness, the most severe outcome of the economic downturn, and find a strong relationship between job loss and a decreased sense of solidarity.

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