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„Birthright Citizenship and Discrimination in a Migration Society: Combining a Natural Experiment with a Large-Scale Trust Experiment in Schools” (joined with Christina Felfe, Helmut Rainer, Judith Saurer, Thomas Siedler)

On 10th July 2017 (1-2pm) Martin Kocher, professor for behavioural economics and experimental economics at the Ludwigs, will give a presentation about “Birthright Citizenship and Discrimination in a Migration Society:  Combining a Natural Experiment with a Large-Scale Trust Experiment in Schools" in Q4.245. Afterwards, Mr. Kocher will be available for questions and discussions. His presentation is part of


A fundamental aspect of migrant integration pertains inter-personal interactions between natives and immigrants. Ingrained in such interactions are issues of group identity which
may give rise to phenomena such as favoritism and discrimination.  We have (i) run an artefactual field experiment based on the trust game with a large, representative sample of German adolescents; (ii) allowed participants to condition their strategies on the migration background of their opponents; and (iii) matched the experimental data with individual background information from an extensive, self-conducted survey. In a first step, we document an interesting, heterogeneous pattern of discrimination: children with migrational backgrounds strongly discriminate in their trust decisions against their native peers but not (or to a much less extent) vice versa. On inspection, this discriminatory behavior turns out to be statistically unjustified, not driven by wrong stereotypes, and it involves a sacrifice of money, which points to a preferences-based explanation. We furthermore show that discrimination in youths is negatively correlated with parental education for non-immigrants and with parental integration efforts for immigrants. In a second step, we connect our artefactual field experiment with a natural policy experiment which saw the introduction of a widely debated integration policy: birthright citizenship, which automatically grants children born to foreign parents the nationality of the host country. We find that the policy substantially reduced the degree of discrimination among male, but not among female, immigrants. This effect is accompanied by an improved educational integration of immigrant males, but not by a greater sense of affiliation with the host nation.

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