Discrimination on the German Child Care Market: A Nationwide Correspondence Study

About this Session


Thu. 07.04. 11:00



Speaker: Fabian Mierisch, Co-Authors: Henning Hermes, Philipp Lergetporer, Frauke Peter, Simon Wiederhold Abstract: Minority ethnic children are underrepresented in early childcare. One potential explanation for the native-ethnic enrollment gap is discriminatory behavior of childcare center management that impedes access for ethnic children. We investigate this possibility by sending emails from fictitious parents to >18,000 childcare centers across Germany. The inquiry asks if there is a slot in the center available, and how to apply. We randomly varied parents’ names to signal ethnic or native background. Emails from ethnic parents receive 5.3 percentage points fewer answers than those from native parents. Signaling parents’ education level in an additional treatment shows that the native-ethnic gap in receiving an answer is not driven by childcare center managements’ beliefs about parents’ educational background. Email content analysis also reveals large native-ethnic gaps in answer length and slot offers. Heterogeneity analyses show that discrimination is more pronounced in East Germany but exists throughout the country. Linking detailed regional data shows larger discrimination in economically deprived regions, while the degree of discrimination does not differ by, for example, the regional share of migrants or the right-wing vote share in a constituency. Our paper provides first evidence that the socioeconomic gap in childcare enrollment is partially caused by discrimination against ethnic families.