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More Opportunity, More Cooperation? The Behavioral Effects of Birthright Citizenship on Immigrant Youth

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  • Christina Felfe
  • Martin G. Kocher
  • Helmut Rainer

    ()

  • Judith Saurer

    ()

  • Thomas Siedler

Abstract

Inequality of opportunity, particularly when overlaid with racial, ethnic, or cultural differences, increases the social distance between individuals, which is widely believed to limit the scope of cooperation. A central question, then, is how to bridge such divides. We study the effects of a major citizenship reform in Germany—the introduction of birthright citizenship on January 1, 2000—in terms of inter-group cooperation and social segregation between immigrant and native youth. We hypothesize that endowing immigrant children with citizenship rights levels the playing field between them and their native peers, with possible spill-overs into the domain of social interactions. Our unique setup connects a large-scale lab-in-the-field experiment based on the investment game with the citizenship reform by exploiting the quasi-random assignment of citizenship rights around its cut-off date. Immigrant youth born prior to the reform display high levels of cooperation toward other immigrants, but low levels of cooperation toward natives. The introduction of birthright citizenship caused male, but not female, immigrants to significantly increase their cooperativeness toward natives. This effect is accompanied by a near-closure of the educational achievement gap between young immigrant men and their native peers..

Suggested Citation

  • Christina Felfe & Martin G. Kocher & Helmut Rainer & Judith Saurer & Thomas Siedler, 2018. "More Opportunity, More Cooperation? The Behavioral Effects of Birthright Citizenship on Immigrant Youth," CESifo Working Paper Series 6991, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6991
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Henning Finseraas & Torbjørn Hanson & Åshild A. Johnsen & Andreas Kotsadam & Gaute Torsvik, 2019. "Trust, Ethnic Diversity, and Personal Contact: A Field Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 7515, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    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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