Marc Helbling, Rahsaan Maxwell, Simon Munzert, Richard Traunmüller
The importance of citizenship for deserving COVID-19 treatment

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 2022: 9, (article no. 302) e-only
ISSN: 2662-9992 (online)

Immigrant non-citizens are often considered less deserving than citizens of welfare and other public services. The logic is that valuable and scarce public resources must be limited somehow, and the club of citizens is one way of drawing a boundary. In this paper, we examine how far that boundary extends, by analyzing the extent to which Germans prioritize citizens over non-citizens for access to life-saving healthcare. We implement a conjoint experiment to elicit preferences in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data were collected between April 2020 and March 2021, in 23 waves of an online rolling cross-sectional survey with roughly 17,000 respondents. Our main finding is that citizens are viewed as more deserving of healthcare than non-citizen immigrants, a relationship that is sizeable and robust. Our findings have implications for debates about social boundaries and how to allocate resources in Western Europe.