Culture, work attitudes, and job search: Evidence from the Swiss language border

Beatrix Eugster, Rafael Lalive, Andreas Steinhauer, Josef Zweimuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unemployment varies across space and in time. Can attitudes toward 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 toward 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.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjvw024
Pages (from-to)1056-1100
JournalJournal of European Economic Association
Issue number5
Early online date1 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • culture
  • preferences
  • values
  • norms
  • unemployment duration
  • regional unemployment

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