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

Author

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  • Felfe, Christina

    (University of Würzburg)

  • Kocher, Martin G.

    (University of Munich)

  • Rainer, Helmut

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Saurer, Judith

    (University of Würzburg)

  • Siedler, Thomas

    (University of Potsdam)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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," IZA Discussion Papers 14384, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp14384
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Gordon B. Dahl & Cristina Felfe & Paul Frijters & Helmut Rainer, 2020. "Caught between Cultures: Unintended Consequences of Improving Opportunity for Immigrant Girls," NBER Working Papers 26674, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cooperation; in-group/out-group behavior; lab-in-the-field experiment; birthright citizenship;
    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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