Barely any quantitative research has been devoted yet to the labor market and health consequences of incarceration for political offenses, which seems particularly unfortunate against the background of Europe’s history of state persecution in the 20th century. Drawing on the example of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), the project studies how the experience of political imprisonment affected individuals’ subsequent career outcomes. We are particularly interested in exploring three distinct mechanisms through which political imprisonment might have affected subsequent career outcomes: (1) discrimination and stigmatization, (2) human capital devaluation and (3) health disadvantages. When looking at the long-run consequences, we further distinguish between pre- and post-unification outcomes. This seems particularly important because the relationship between political imprisonment and subsequent career and health outcomes may not only vary over an individual’s life-course, but is also likely to differ substantially across the different political and economic systems before and after German Unification.


Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Köln, DE

Project duration

01.07.2014 - 30.09.2015

Project members

Prof. Dr. Nicole Gürtzgen (Coordinator)
Prof. Dr. Karsten Hank (Coordinator)