Article

Immigrants’ names as an initial factor of discrimination

A field experiment reveals social Integration difficulties for people with names of a foreign origin

Cornel Nesseler, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU; Carlos Gómez-González, University of Zurich, UZH; Helmut Dietl, University of Zurich, UZH; Adaptation: Xavier Aguilar;

Taking advantage of football’s popularity, a field experiment was conducted on immigrants’ access to social activities. The experiment consisted of posing as football fans applying to take part in a trial training session for an amateur team and sending emails to coaches at over twenty thousand clubs all over Europe. Despite the applications being identical, those sent as if from footballers with local names obtained more affirmative responses than those sent with names of a foreign origin. In the case of Spain, the preference in favour of native players was evident: the difference was of thirteen points, standing above the European average. The results reveal difficulties for social integration that, subsequently, may also lead to barriers relating to labour and economic integration.
Key points
  • 1
       From email accounts with profiles clearly identifiable as either locals or immigrants, messages were sent applying to take part in a trial training session with an amateur football team.
  • 2
       Applications from foreign nationals received less attention than those from native players, both in Switzerland and, more markedly, in Spain.
  • 3
       Name-based discrimination affects newly arrived immigrants and second- and third-generation immigrants alike.
  • 4
       The research will be extended to some twenty European countries and will enable analysis of the differences in results between countries and whether there is a tendency to penalise names from certain origins more.
Ratio of affirmative responses by name origin in Spain
Ratio of affirmative responses by name origin in Spain

Applications sent to local football clubs signed by names such as Daniel Rodríguez or Pablo González, referring to a clearly native origin, obtained a positive response in practically half of cases. In contrast, only just over a third of those signed by names of foreign origin, such as Youssef Alami, were successful.

 

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