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A major theory from social psychology claims that external threats can strengthen group identities and cooperation. The paper presented in this ZEW Research Seminar exploits the Russian invasion in Ukraine 2014 as a sudden increase in the perceived military threat for eastern European Union member states, in particular for the Baltic countries bordering Russia directly. Comparing low versus high-threat member states in a difference-in-differences design, I find a sizeable positive effect on EU identity. It is associated with higher trust in EU institutions and support for common EU policies. Different perceptions of the invasion cause a polarization of preferences between the majority and ethnic Russian minorities.
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