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More opportunity, more cooperation? The behavioral effects of birthright citizenship on immigrant youth

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  • Felfe, Christina
  • Kocher, Martin G.
  • Rainer, Helmut
  • Saurer, Judith
  • Siedler, Thomas

Abstract

Inequality of opportunity, particularly when overlaid with socioeconomic, ethnic, or cultural differences, may limit the scope of cooperation between individuals. A central question, then, is how to overcome such obstacles to cooperation. We study this question in the context of Germany, by asking whether the propensity of immigrant youth to cooperate with native peers was affected by a major integration reform: the introduction of birthright citizenship. Our unique setup exploits data from a large-scale lab-in-the-field experiment in a quasi-experimental evaluation framework. We find that the policy caused male, but not female, immigrants to significantly increase their cooperativeness toward natives. We show that the increase in out-group cooperation among immigrant boys is an outcome of more trust rather than a reflection of stronger other-regarding preferences towards natives. In exploring factors that may explain these behavioral effects, we present evidence that the policy also led to a near-closure of the educational achievement gap between young immigrant men and their native peers. Our results highlight that, through integration interventions, governments can modify prosocial behavior in a way that generates higher levels of efficiency in the interaction between social groups.

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  • Felfe, Christina & Kocher, Martin G. & Rainer, Helmut & Saurer, Judith & Siedler, Thomas, 2021. "More opportunity, more cooperation? The behavioral effects of birthright citizenship on immigrant youth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 200(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:200:y:2021:i:c:s0047272721000840
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2021.104448
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    Cited by:

    1. Kai Ingwersen & Stephan L. Thomsen, 2021. "The immigrant-native wage gap in Germany revisited," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 19(4), pages 825-854, December.
    2. Gordon B Dahl & Christina Felfe & Paul Frijters & Helmut Rainer, 2022. "Caught between Cultures: Unintended Consequences of Improving Opportunity for Immigrant Girls [Economics and Identity]," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 89(5), pages 2491-2528.
    3. Finseraas, Henning & Hanson, Torbjørn & Johnsen, Åshild A. & Kotsadam, Andreas & Torsvik, Gaute, 2019. "Trust, ethnic diversity, and personal contact: A field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 72-84.
    4. Drouvelis, Michalis & Malaeb, Bilal & Vlassopoulos, Michael & Wahba, Jackline, 2021. "Cooperation in a fragmented society: Experimental evidence on Syrian refugees and natives in Lebanon," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 176-191.
    5. Gathmann, Christina & Garbers, Julio, 2022. "Citizenship and Integration," IZA Discussion Papers 15786, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Horn, Dániel & Kiss, Hubert János & Lénárd, Tünde, 2022. "Gender differences in preferences of adolescents: Evidence from a large-scale classroom experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 194(C), pages 478-522.
    7. Sutter, Matthias & Zoller, Claudia & Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela, 2019. "Economic behavior of children and adolescents – A first survey of experimental economics results," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 98-121.
    8. Christina Gathmann & Ole Monscheuer & Christina Felfe & Helmut Rainer & Swantje Falcke & Paolo Pinotti & Graziella Bertocchi & Chiara Strozzi, 2020. "Einbürgerung (junger) Migranten: Katalysator oder Belohnung für gelungene Integration?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 73(11), pages 03-24, November.
    9. Deiana, Claudio & Giua, Ludovica & Nistico, Roberto, 2022. "Legalization and Long-Term Outcomes of Immigrant Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 15189, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Christina Felfe de Ormeño & Helmut Rainer, 2020. "Intended and Unintended Consequences of Birthright Citizenship," CESifo Forum, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 21(04), pages 14-18, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    In-group favoritism; Out-group discrimination; Birthright citizenship; Lab-in-the-field experiment; Natural experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K37 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Immigration Law

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