DP9983 Highway To Hitler

Author(s): Nico Voigtländer, Hans-Joachim Voth
Publication Date: May 2014
Keyword(s): establishment of dictatorships, infrastructure spending, Nazi regime, political economy, pork-barrel politics
JEL(s): H54, N44, N94, P16
Programme Areas: Economic History, International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: http://www.cepr.org/pubs/dps/DP9983

Can infrastructure investment win “hearts and minds”? We analyze a famous case in the early stages of dictatorship – the building of the motorway network in Nazi Germany. The Autobahn was one of the most important projects of the Hitler government. It was intended to reduce unemployment, and was widely used for propaganda purposes. We examine its role in increasing support for the NS regime by analyzing new data on motorway construction and the 1934 plebiscite, which gave Hitler great powers as head of state. Our results suggest that road building was highly effective, reducing opposition to the nascent Nazi regime.