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Economic preferences and attitudes of the unemployed: Are natives and second generation migrants alike?

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Purpose ‐ The aim of this paper is to study the economic effects of risk attitudes, time preferences, trust and reciprocity and to compare natives and second generation migrants. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This paper is based on the IZA Evaluation Dataset, a recently collected survey of a representative inflow sample into unemployment in Germany. The data include a large number of migrant-specific variables as well as information about economic preferences and attitudes. This allows an assessment of whether and how unemployed second generation migrants differ from unemployed natives in terms of economic preferences and attitudes. Findings ‐ Differences are found between the two groups mainly in terms of risk attitudes and positive reciprocity. Second generation migrants have a significantly higher willingness to take risks and they are less likely to have a low amount of positive reciprocity when compared to natives. It was also found that these differences matter in terms of economic outcomes, and more specifically in terms of the employment probability about two months after unemployment entry. Research limitations/implications ‐ The findings offer interesting perspectives, e.g. with regard to the design and targeting of active labor market policy. It may be reasonable to specifically focus on less risk averse individuals with measures such as job search requirements and monitoring. Originality/value ‐ This paper provides novel and direct evidence on the relationship between economic preferences, attitudes and labor market reintegration of natives and second generation migrants.

Keywords: Ethnography; Germany; Immigrants; Migration; Personality traits; Reciprocity; Risk attitudes; Time preferences; Trust; Unemployment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 18, 2011

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