M. Schaub, J. Gereke, D. Baldassarri, “Foreigners in hostile hinterlands: Local exposure to refugees and right-wing support in Eastern Germany after the refugee crisis”, under review.

ABSTRACT: How does first-time, local exposure to foreigners influence attitudes towards them and support for right-wing parties? The article exploits a natural experiment: the allocation of refugees to municipalities in the rural hinterlands of Eastern Germany during the refugee crisis of 2015. Similar to rural regions elsewhere, the area has seen a major shift towards the political right. The paper relies on an innovative design, in which 1,320 German citizens were sampled from 236 closely-matched municipalities, only half of which received refugees. Survey and behavioral measures show widespread anti-immigrant sentiments and strong support for right-wing parties, but these are not affected by the physical allocation of refugees in a municipality. Our results are corroborated by the analysis of a range of mechanisms related to our outcomes that are left unaffected by local exposure to refugees. This overall null effect, however, masks some important differences: We find that the presence of refugees has served as a `reality check' for both right- and left-leaning individuals, making them more moderate. We conclude that the allocation of refugees in areas without significant prior history of immigration has had little bearing on anti-immigrant attitudes and right-wing support.


J. Gereke, K. Gërxhani,, “Experimental Economics and Experimental Sociology” for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Economics and Finance, forthcoming.

ABSTRACT: Experimental economics has moved beyond the traditional focus on market mechanisms and the ‘invisible hand’ by applying sociological and socio-psychological knowledge in the study of rationality, markets, and efficiency. This knowledge includes social preferences, social norms and cross-cultural variation in motivations. In turn, the renewed interest in causation, social mechanisms and middle-range theories in sociology has led to a renaissance of research employing experimental methods. This includes laboratory experiments, but also a wide range of field experiments with diverse samples and settings. By focusing on a set of research topics that have proven to be of substantive interest to both disciplines - cooperation in social dilemmas, trust and trustworthiness, and social norms - this review aims to highlight innovative interdisciplinary research that connects experimental economics with experimental sociology. We conclude that experimental economics and experimental sociology can still learn much from each other, thus providing economists and sociologists with an opportunity to collaborate and advance our knowledge on a range of underexplored topics of interest to both disciplines.


N. Zhang, J. Gereke, D. Baldassarri, “Discrimination is unaffected by immigrants’ socioeconomic status."

ABSTRACT: Despite considerable progress in combating ethnic and racial prejudice, ``subtle'' or covert forms of discrimination remain widespread across Western societies. The persistence of discrimination poses distinct problems for nations undergoing immigration-related demographic change, as it is widely recognized that ethnic penalties can undermine intergroup relations and impede immigrants' social integration. Understanding the sources of discrimination thus becomes vital as societies adapt to immigration and increasing ethnic diversity. Against this backdrop, several prominent lines of research have suggested that improvements in immigrants’ socioeconomic status may contribute to reduced prejudice and discrimination. However, empirical tests of this proposition have been limited by a reliance upon attitudinal and self-reported measures which do not adequately account for differences in individuals' sensitivity or potential exposure to discrimination. To address these issues, we present findings from a randomized field experiment examining discrimination against high- and low-status immigrants in Milan, Italy. Our experiment captures natives' physical avoidance of immigrants as an unobtrusive measure of contemporary covert discrimination. Contrary to the hypothesis that discrimination decreases with immigrants' socioeconomic status, we find that natives are equally averse to contact with high- and low-status immigrants. Further exploratory analysis reveals this effect to be driven by native women avoiding immigrant men. We link these results to an understanding of contemporary discrimination rooted in theories of intergroup anxiety. We further discuss the implications of these findings for improving interethnic relations in multicultural societies.


with Daniel Auer (WZB) and Max Schaub (WZB) “Migration, Magic, and the Risk of Dying: Evidence from real-time migration decisions in The Gambia” (data collection ongoing)

ABSTRACT: Beliefs in magic and superstitions have been observed to influence a range of outcomes, including warfare, business and electoral choice. In the context of migration, previous studies have documented the ubiquity of superstitious beliefs in influencing when, where and how aspiring migrants decide to undertake their journeys abroad. Building on these findings, this study empirically investigates whether magical and superstitious beliefs influence the decision to migrate using an original longitudinal data set. We do so in the context of The Gambia, which has seen some of the highest migration rates in the world in recent years. We hypothesize that magical beliefs make individuals likely to underestimate the risk of the migratory journey, and make them more trusting of smugglers, who often betray this trust. In order to test these hypotheses, we ask 10,000 potential migrants who will be re-interviewed several times during a 6-months period. This allows us to observe actual migration decisions, and to link these to beliefs in magic, risk attitudes and trust perceptions.


with Heiko Rauhut (Zürich University) book chapter on “Public Goods and Collective Action” for “Rational Choice Theory” Handbook (in German)