Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 23–51 | Cite as

Immigration restrictions and second-generation cultural assimilation: theory and quasi-experimental evidence

  • Fausto Galli
  • Giuseppe RussoEmail author
Original Paper


We study the effects of immigration restrictions on the cultural assimilation of second-generation migrants. In our theoretical model, when mobility is free, individuals with a stronger taste for their native culture migrate temporarily. When immigration is restricted, however, these individuals are incentivized to relocate permanently. Permanent emigrants procreate in the destination country and convey their cultural traits to the second generation, who will therefore find assimilation harder. We test this prediction by using the 1973 immigration ban in Germany (Anwerbestopp) as a quasi-experiment. Since the ban only concerned immigrants from countries outside the European Economic Community, they act as a treatment group. According to our estimates, the Anwerbestopp has reduced the cultural assimilation of the second generation. This result demonstrated robustness to several checks. We conclude that restrictive immigration policies may have the unintended consequence of delaying the intergenerational process of cultural assimilation.


Second-generation immigration Intergenerational assimilation Cultural transmission Social and economic stratification 

JEL Classification

D91 F22 J15 K37 Z13 



We are grateful to the Editor-in-Chief, Klaus F. Zimmermann, and two anonymous referees who helped us to greatly improve our paper with their remarks. We acknowledge participants to the XIII Brucchi Luchino Workshop, the IX CSEF-IGIER Symposium on Economics and Institutions, and the Petralia Applied Economics Workshop. We also thank Toke Aidt, Alberto Bennardo, Gaetano Bloise, Michel Beine, François Bourguignon, Vincenzo Carrieri, Andrew Clark, Francesco Magris, Claire Naiditch, Dimitri Paolini, Eleonora Patacchini, Nicola Persico, Giovanni Pica, Vincenzo Pierro, Shanker Satyanath, and Filippo Taddei. The usual disclaimer applies.

Funding Information

The authors acknowledge financial support from the University of Salerno Giuseppe Russo: FARB project ORSA 163317; Fausto Galli: FARB project 160472.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e StatisticheUniversita’ di SalernoFiscianoItaly
  2. 2.Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF)NapoliItaly

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