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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Internationale Politik

Forschung


1. Ethnic violence

Do ethnic riots affect prosocial behavior? A common view among scholars of ethnic violence is thatriots increase cooperation within the warring groups, while cooperation across groups is reduced.We revisit this hypothesis by studying the aftermath of the 2010 Osh riot in Kyrgyzstan, which sawKyrgyz from outside the city kill over 400 Uzbeks. We implement a representative survey, which includesunobtrusive experimental measures of prosocial behavior. Our causal identification strategy exploitsvariation in the distance of neighborhoods to armored military vehicles, which were instrumental in or-chestrating the riot. Wefind that victimized neighborhoods show substantially lower levels of prosocialbehavior. Importantly, we demonstrate that the reduction is similarly stark both within and across groups.Using qualitative interviews, we parse out two mechanisms that help explain the surprising reduction iningroup prosociality: Victimized Uzbeks felt abandoned by their coethnics, and variation in victimizationcreated a feeling of suspicion.

 

2. Religious radicalization

A variety of theories attempt to explain why some individuals radicalize along religiouslines. Few studies, however, have jointly put these diverse hypotheses under empiricalscrutiny. Focusing on Muslim–Christian tensions in Kenya, we distill salient micro-,meso-, and macro-level hypotheses that try to account for the recent spike in reli-gious radicalization. We use an empirical strategy that compares survey evidence fromChristian and Muslim respondents with differing degrees of religious radicalization.We find no evidence that radicalization is predicted by macro-level political or economicgrievances. Rather, radicalization is strongly associated with individual-level psycholo-gical trauma, including historically troubledsocial relations, and process-oriented fac-tors, particularly religious identificationand exposure to radical networks. The findingspoint to a model of radicalization as an individual-level process that is largely unaffectedby macro-level influences. As such, radicalization is better understood in a relational,idea-driven framework as opposed to amacro-level structural approach.

 

3. Political inequality

Why are some societies more unequal than others? The French revolutionaries believed unequal inheritances among siblings to be responsible for the strict hierarchies of the ancien r´egime. To achieve equality, the revolutionaries therefore enforced equal inheritance rights. Their goal was to empower women and to disenfranchise the noble class. But do equal inheritances succeed in leveling the societal playing field? We study Germany—a country with pronounced local-level variation in inheritance customs—and find that municipalities that historically equally apportioned wealth, to this day, elect more women into political councils and have fewer aristocrats in the social elite. Using historic data, we point to two mechanisms: wealth equality and pro-egalitarian preferences. In a final step, we also show that, counterintuitively, equitable inheritance customs positively predict income inequality. We interpret this finding to mean that equitable inheritances level the playing field by rewarding talent, not status.

 

4. Migration

What theories explain variation in public opinion toward asylum seekers? We implement a survey experiment in which a representative sample of German residents evaluates vignettes of asylum seekers, which randomly vary attributes that speak to deservingness, economic and religious threat, and gender considerations of attitude formation. We find strong support for deservingness theories. Economic and religious threat theories also receive empirical support. Gender plays a negligible role. Importantly, we also document that economic and—to a lesser extent—religious threat considerations only matter when respondents evaluate economic refugees. By contrast, political refugees are welcomed nearly unconditionally. Our paper thus replicates key findings from Bansak, Hainmueller, and Hangartner (2016) and Czymara and Schmidt-Catran (2016) using a representative sample and points to an important interaction effect in public opinion formation toward asylum seekers: economic threat only gets activated when refugees’ deservingness is in doubt.