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

58 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2018

See all articles by Christina Felfe

Christina Felfe

University of St. Gallen; University of St. Gallen - Swiss Institute for Empirical Economic Research (SEW)

Martin G. Kocher

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich - Faculty of Economics; Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) - Department of Economics & Finance; Göteborg University - School of Business, Economics and Law; Queensland University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance

Helmut Rainer

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Judith Saurer

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Thomas Siedler

University of Hamburg - Faculty of Business, Economics, and Social Sciences; DIW Berlin; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); University of Essex

Date Written: April 24, 2018

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.

JEL Classification: C930, D900, J150, K370

Suggested Citation

Felfe, Christina and Kocher, Martin G. and Rainer, Helmut and Saurer, Judith and Siedler, Thomas, More Opportunity, More Cooperation? The Behavioral Effects of Birthright Citizenship on Immigrant Youth (April 24, 2018). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6991. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3194442

Christina Felfe

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Bodanstrasse 6
St. Gallen, 9000
Switzerland

University of St. Gallen - Swiss Institute for Empirical Economic Research (SEW)

Varnbuelstrasse 14
St. Gallen, 9000
Switzerland

Martin G. Kocher

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539
Germany

Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) - Department of Economics & Finance ( email )

Stumpergasse 56
A-1060 Vienna, A-1060
Austria

Göteborg University - School of Business, Economics and Law ( email )

Vasagatan 1
Goteborg, 40530
Sweden

Queensland University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance ( email )

GPO Box 2434
2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4001
Australia

Helmut Rainer (Contact Author)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Judith Saurer

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Thomas Siedler

University of Hamburg - Faculty of Business, Economics, and Social Sciences ( email )

Von-Melle-Park 9
Hamburg, 20146
Germany

DIW Berlin ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

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