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Immigration and the Diffusion of Technology: The Huguenot Diaspora in Prussia

Erik Hornung
ifo Institute for Economic Research, Germany

This paper analyzes the long-term effect of technological diffusion on productivity caused by immigration of skilled workers. In 1685 religious persecution drove highly skilled Huguenots into the backward Brandenburg-Prussia where they established themselves and transferred technological knowledge to natives. We find that textile manufactories installed in towns hosting the Huguenots achieved higher productivity than others due to diffusion, even 100 years after immigration. Identification is supported by an instrumental variable approach identifying variation in the location of Huguenots which results from population losses due to plagues during the Thirty Years’ War, events exogenous to economic preconditions.

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