Sovereign Debt, Migration Pressure, and Government Survival

William T. Bernhard, David Leblang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As soon as the sovereign debt crisis began, it was widely understood that Germany’s response would dictate its ultimate resolution. Whereas the initial round of bailouts stabilized markets and preserved the Euro, the purpose of the second Greek bailout is less clear. We argue that the German government’s decision to support a second Greek bailout reflected domestic political calculations. While a bailout would involve short-term political costs, Merkel’s government also recognized the social and economic consequences of potential Greek default. In particular, a default entailed the prospect of a massive inflow of migrants from Southern Europe into Germany, which would have hurt labor markets and, in turn, could have cost Merkel’s coalition electoral support. To evaluate the political, economic, and social costs of the second Greek bailout, we use models of credit default swap spreads, studies of international migration, and research on vote intention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-938
Number of pages32
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • EU politics and policy
  • financial crises
  • migration
  • political economy
  • sovereign debt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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