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New study by Christopher Meissner finds that fiscal austerity contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party

Professor Meissner's findings were recently featured in Newsweek and Vox

In a new paper released through the National Bureau of Economic Research, economic historian Christopher Meissner and his coauthors find that fiscal austerity in the early 1930s contributed to the rise of Germany's Nazi Party. Professor Meissner's research was recently featured in Vox and in Newsweek.

At the outset of the Great Depression, the German government increased taxes and rolled back the social safety net in an effort to balance budgets. While these fiscal changes were enacted at the national level, local areas were differentially impacted by the austerity program depending on how much local governments depended on different types of taxation. The authors show that German districts exposed to harsher austerity measures experienced faster growth in both Nazi Party membership and the National Socialist share of the vote in a series of elections between 1930 and 1933. While austerity was only one of several contributors to the Nazi takeover, the authors argue that the Nazis would have found it difficult to form a majority coalition in the absence of the austerity program.

The study is coauthored with Gregori Galofré-Vilà and David Stuckler of Bocconi University and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.