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Culture, Work Attitudes and Job Search: Evidence from the Swiss Language Border

2017-10 , Eugster, Beatrix , Lalive, Rafael , Steinhauer, Andreas , Zweimüller, Josef

Unemployment varies across space and in time. Can attitudes towards work explain some of these differences? We study job search durations along the Swiss language border, sharply separating Romance language speakers from German speakers. According to surveys and voting results, the language border separates two social groups with different cultural background and attitudes towards work. Despite similar local labor markets and identical institutions, Romance language speakers search for work almost seven weeks (or 22%) longer than their German speaking neighbors. This is a quantitatively large effect, comparable to a large change in unemployment insurance generosity.