Applied economics research seminar: Caught between cultures

Issued: Fri, 15 Nov 2019 16:36:00 GMT

Date: Wednesday 27 November 2019
Time: 3pm - 4:30pm
Venue: Main Building Room 540A
Category: Academic events
Audience: Academic staff and doctoral students
Admission: Free
Registration: N/A

Professor Helmut Rainer of the University of Munich will present his research entitled 'Caught between Cultures: Unintended Consequences of Improving Opportunity for Immigrant Girls' at Adam Smith Business School on Wednesday 27 November 2019.

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 a difference-in-discontinuities design, we find that citizenship lowers measures of life satisfaction and self esteem for immigrant girls. This is especially true for Muslim immigrants, where cultural identity is particularly salient. While birthright citizenship raises educational aspirations for immigrant girls, it also results in disillusionment where they believe their chances of achieving these goals are lower. Consistent with the model, parental investments in immigrant daughters' schooling drops and the perceived odds of having to forgo a career for family rise. We further find that immigrant girls granted birthright citizenship feel less integrated into German society and are less likely to participate in after-school social activities with natives. In contrast, immigrant boys experience, if anything, an improvement in well-being and little effect on the other margins we measure. Taken together, the findings point towards immigrant girls being pushed by parents to be the keepers of traditional culture, whereas boys are allowed to take advantage of the opportunities that come with citizenship. Alternative models can explain some, but not all, of our findings.

Helmut is a Professor of Economics at the University of Munich and the Director of the ifo Center for Labor and Demographic Economics. His research interests are in family economics, labor economics, and applied microeconomics. Helmut has had publications in the European Economic Review, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Population Economics and Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Please email Sarah McLean at for further information about this event.

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