Social and Ethnic Differences in Residential Choices

Research question/goal: 

The study aimed to explain differences in residential choices of ethnic and social groups in Germany. While previous studies suggested several explanations for the existence and reproduction of residential concentration along ethnic or social dimensions in cities, the actual processes of the underlying actions have rarely been examined: the residential choices of individual households. It was assumed that residential choices are the result of several processes depending on households' economic, social and cultural resources.

The main study was preceded by 23 qualitative, in-depth interviews with native German and immigrant respondents about their residential preferences, moving behaviour and long term residential biographies. These interviews gave strong support for the potential importance of limited information, path dependencies based on residential biographies, the role of housing market structures and little support for intentional self-segregation of migrants.

We furthermore conducted a field experiment on ethnic residential discrimination on the housing market. In a telephone audit design randomly assigned testers called landlords who had advertised apartments for rent. With 1,613 calls to 852 different landlords, we did not find support for discrimination based on a Turkish name alone but a strong effect of a Turkish name in combination with a Turkish accent. Indicating a stable job during a call significantly compensates the effect of a Turkish accent. Our results indicate a stronger evidence for statistical discrimination than for taste discrimination.

The main study investigated residential biographies and residential choices of native German and immigrant households in the city of Mannheim. We conducted face-to-face interviews with 1,600 households of Turkish and native German origin, oversampling recent movers and households with members of a Turkish migration background. Results confirm that moving into segregated areas is mainly an effect of social instead of ethnic differences. There are, however, specific ethnic aspects that lead to varying residential choices between groups. Limited knowledge about and consideration of available alternatives increase the likelihood of moving into areas with a high immigrant population. Differing residential choices cannot be explained by economic aspects alone or intentional self-segregation of individuals.

Fact sheet

2007 to 2014
Data Sources: 
Primary data collection
Geographic Space: