Do Politicians Discriminate Against Constituents with an Immigration Background? Field Experimental Evidence from Germany

24 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2020 Last revised: 13 Apr 2020

See all articles by Jeyhun Alizade

Jeyhun Alizade

Princeton University, Department of Politics

Fabio Ellger

Humboldt University of Berlin - Department of Social Science

Date Written: March 23, 2020

Abstract

Immigration is changing the face of Western European electorates. Do politicians discriminate against the growing number of constituents with an immigration background? While ethnic distance can explain lower responsiveness to outgroup constituents, shared partisanship might mitigate discrimination. We examine this issue through an audit experiment with more than 1,500 MPs in fifteen German state legislatures. We find that politicians are eleven percentage points less likely to respond to a constituent’s email asking for a personal meeting if the sender has an immigrant background. Surprisingly, there is no difference in rates of discrimination between leftist and rightist parties. We also find evidence that signaling partisanship can mitigate the immigrant-background effect. Our results have important implications for the study of immigration and political representation in contemporary Western Europe.

Keywords: Immigration, discrimination, responsiveness, Germany, audit study

Suggested Citation

Alizade, Jeyhun and Ellger, Fabio, Do Politicians Discriminate Against Constituents with an Immigration Background? Field Experimental Evidence from Germany (March 23, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3559396 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3559396

Jeyhun Alizade (Contact Author)

Princeton University, Department of Politics ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

Fabio Ellger

Humboldt University of Berlin - Department of Social Science ( email )

Berlin
Germany

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