IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/26674.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Caught between Cultures: Unintended Consequences of Improving Opportunity for Immigrant Girls

Author

Listed:
  • Gordon B. Dahl
  • Cristina Felfe
  • Paul Frijters
  • Helmut Rainer

Abstract

What happens when immigrant girls are given increased opportunities to integrate into the workplace and society, but their parents value more traditional cultural outcomes? Building on Akerlof and Kranton's identity framework (2000), we construct a simple game-theoretic model which shows how expanding opportunities for immigrant girls can have the unintended consequence of reducing their well-being, since identity-concerned parents will constrain their daughter's choices. The model can explain the otherwise puzzling findings from a reform which granted automatic birthright citizenship to eligible immigrant children born in Germany after January 1, 2000. Using survey data we collected in 57 schools in Germany and comparing those born in the months before versus after the reform, we find that birthright citizenship lowers measures of life satisfaction and self-esteem for immigrant girls. This is especially true for Muslims, where traditional cultural identity is particularly salient. Birthright citizenship results in disillusionment where immigrant Muslim girls believe their chances of achieving their educational goals are lower and the perceived odds of having to forgo a career for family rise. Consistent with the model, immigrant Muslim parents invest less in their daughters' schooling and have a lower probability of speaking German with their daughters if they are born after the reform. We further find that immigrant Muslim girls granted birthright citizenship are less likely to self-identify as German, are more socially isolated, and are less likely to believe foreigners can have a good life in Germany. In contrast, immigrant boys experience, if anything, an improvement in well-being and little effect on other outcomes. Taken together, the findings point towards immigrant girls being pushed by parents to conform to a role within traditional culture, whereas boys are allowed to take advantage of the opportunities that come with citizenship. Alternative models can explain some of the findings in isolation, but are not consistent more generally.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26674
    Note: CH LS PE POL
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w26674.pdf
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at http://www.nber.org/wwphelp.html. Free access is also available to older working papers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26674. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.