Proposal preview

The Economics of Nationalism in Historical Perspective

Nationalism and awareness of it has recently been rising again across the world. The historical literature (Anderson 1983; Gellner 1983) understands nationalism as a modern phenomenon and links the spread of nationalism to economic development driven by technological change such as printing or the telegraph and a growing division of labor. Economists instead often consider nationalism as a sign of backwardness or ignore it altogether. Economic history has focused on issues like protectionism but has paid limited attention to broader types of nationalism so far. Hence, the potential of the field remains largely unexplored, especially when it comes to testing new theories in the wake of Alesina et al (2017) or Akerlof (2017) and evidence based on modern econometric analyses and more granular data. We aim to analyze the link between economics and the spread of nationalism by means of quantitative case studies from the nineteenth and twentieth century and sound identification strategies.

Therefore, we aim to bring together the frontier research on this topic by asking the following questions: How do nationalist politics and identity formation interact with trade, economic inequality, industrialization, the spatial dimension of economic activity and technological change? How can we measure nationalism? Which theoretical approaches help us in order to conceptualize nationalism? What is the role of media for the spread of nationalism?

Please send one page abstracts and CVs to the organizers before January 31th, 2018. Notice of acceptance will be sent before February 15th, 2018.

Selected papers
Ulas Karakoc (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Regional inequality and political conflicts in twentieth century Turkey.
Wolf-Fabian Hungerland, Felix Kersting (both Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Richard Bräuer (IWH Halle), Trade and Nationalism in Germany ahead of World War I.
Charlotte Bartels (German Institute for Economic Research), Inequality and the Formation of National Identities.
Leonard Kukic (London School of Economics and Political Science), The Last Yugoslavs: Ethnic Diversity, National identity, and Civil War.


  • Nikolaus Wolf, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,, Germany
  • Felix Kersting, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,, Germany

Session members

  • Leonard Kukic, London School of Economics and Political Science,
  • Charlotte Bartels, German Institute for Economic Research,
  • Wolf-Fabian Hungerland, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,
  • Ulas Karakoc, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Marvin Suesse, Trinity College Dublin,

This panel has Call for Papers open.
If you are interested in participating, please contact the panel organizer(s) to submit a proposal.

  • Nikolaus Wolf, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,, Germany
  • Felix Kersting, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,, Germany