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

Journal of Public Economics 200: 104448 (with M. Kocher, H. Rainer, J. Saurer & T. Siedler)

Inequality of opportunity, particularly when overlaid with cultural differences, increases the social distance between individuals, which limits the scope of cooperation. 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 opportunity-enhancing 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.