The Kapali Carsi

Highway to Heil, paving the way for Erdogan

“At least, he built the Autobahn.” According to economists Nico Voigtlaender and Hans-Joachim Voth (V&V), this is how many Germans (and historians) explain the Nazi regime’s widespread support.

The Hitler government started building the world’s first nationwide highway system within nine months of taking office in 1933. In their working paper “Highway to Hitler,” which was published at the end of May, the two economists ask if voters in districts where roads were being built supported the government more.

Here’s the introduction to my latest Hurriyet Daily News (HDN) column. I summarized the paper before trying to find out if the main idea was applicable, given the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP’s) obsession with building roads, to Turkey. You can read the whole thing at the HDN website. As you’ll see, this is still an open research question, so I am hoping there are Turkish academic economists reading this. Maybe, they could find the data I could not, and I could be reviewing their paper in a few months. Fingers crossed…

As for an addendum, I don’t have much to say. Except that a reader told me that Radikal columnist Fatih Ozatay had written about the paper at the end of May (in Turkish). In his column, Ozatay referred not to the original paper, but to a voxeu article by the two authors summarizing their paper. The paper itself is an easy read, but you can opt the voxeu version if you don’t have time for the whole thing. I also realized NBER, where the working paper was published, may not be open-access for everyone, but my friend Michael Clemens provided a link for an ungated version when he tweeted the paper after seeing my column. Thanks to him for that…

Speaking of Michael, one of his Twitter followers made the following suggestion: “Tina Turnup ‏@kmmunger: @m_clem @EmreDeliveli That’s just sloppy. How is this not titled “Highway to Heil”?” I liked his/her suggestion, and so instead of titling this post “Highway to Hitler, paving the way for Erdogan”, I went for “Highway to Heil, paving the way for Erdogan” So thanks to Tina Turnup for that…

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