Does Ethnic Discrimination Reinforce Segregation?

Experimental Evidence on the German Housing Market

Public Lecture with Katrin Auspurg

Migrants are disadvantaged on the housing market and live segregated in poorer neighborhoods. This has long been seen as a serious obstacle to their social integration, but little is known on the underlying mechanisms. This study aims in particular at a better understanding of the link between ethnic discrimination and residential segregation: Does discrimination reinforce residential segregation, and if yes, for what reasons? To answer these questions, we conducted a large-scale field experiment (e-mail correspondence test) on ethnic discrimination in the German rental housing market. In 2015, we sampled about 5,000 housing offers from an internet platform, and applied to these offers with e-mails signaling a Turkish versus German background. Specific to our study is that we ran our experiments all over Germany, and that we used a multi-factorial experimental design: We varied not only the ethnicity, but also (the amount of information on) a large number of other socio-economic characteristics of the applicants. We find that in particular migrants with a low social status are discriminated, but less so in migrant neighborhoods. These findings suggest that discrimination indeed reinforces residential segregation: not only ethnic, but also social segregation.

Katrin Auspurg holds a full professorship in sociology (specializing in quantitative empirical research) at the Department of Sociology at the LMU Munich since 2015. She earned a Diploma in Sociology from the LMU Munich, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Konstanz.