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Forced Migration and Human Capital: Evidence from Post-WWII Population Transfers
Sascha O. Becker
- American Economic Review (Forthcoming)
We study the long-run effects of forced migration on investment in education. After World War II,
millions of Poles were forcibly uprooted from the Kresy territories of eastern Poland and resettled
(primarily) in the newly acquired Western Territories, from which the Germans were expelled. We
combine historical censuses with newly collected survey data to show that, while there were no
pre-WWII differences in educational attainment, Poles with a family history of forced migration
are significantly more educated today than other Poles. These results are driven by a shift in
preferences away from material possessions toward investment in human capital.
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