Abstract: Identity and Integration: Language Fractionalization and the Vote for the Eurozone in France

Megan Teague and Noel D. Johnson


This paper investigates the persistent effect of cultural identity on the political equilibrium in the European Union. We examine the relationship between the 1992 referendum on accession into the EU and cultural identity across French regions. Our results indicate that those regions in which citizens tend to self-identify with their local communities, as opposed to identifying with "France," were also much more likely to vote to join the EU. This result is robust to instrumenting identity using measures of French language use from the 1864 survey of Victoire Duruy. We also investigate whether the strategies used by minority groups to resist attempts by central states to build power have evolved over time by looking at local support for the centralizing reforms implemented during the French Revolution. In contrast to the evidence on support for accession into the Eurozone in 1992, we find that regions that were less likely to speak French at the end of the eighteenth century were also less likely to support the Revolution. Taken together, these results suggest a shift in the strategies of minority groups to resist assimilation by centralizing states.