The Integration Paradox: Results of a Meta-Analysis and Proposal of a New Experimental Research Design

Speaker: Merlin Schaeffer


This event is part of the Sociology Seminar Series, which will take place online throughout Trinity Term 2021.

Abstract: Social science research has produced evidence of an 'integration paradox': Perceived discrimination among immigrants and their descendants is stronger, the better their access to mainstream middle-class society as broadly indicated by their education, length of residence, or generational status. Social scientists have proposed several explanations of these counterintuitive patterns and produced a rich assembly of mixed empirical evidence. To identify which reliable insights this line of research has produced across the various samples and measures utilized, this study presents the first (pre-registered) meta-analytic review of the integration paradox. As a review, the first contribution of this study is to systematize key theoretical arguments put forward in the integration paradox literature into a coherent theoretical synthesis. As our second contribution we then assess the reliability of the evidence in favor of the theoretical claims made in the literature, by using recent developments in multilevel meta-analysis, p-curve analysis, and MRA regressions. We pre-register this meta-analysis after an initial coding of four studies, which we use as pilot sample to calibrate the coding scheme, data processing (e.g., derivation of comparable effect sizes), and analyses. The pre-registered pilot results imply that the core claims of the integration paradox are reliable, especially driven by increased social exposure to mainstream members, and not the product of publication bias. 

That said, we also identify a fundamental flaw: Prior research suggests systematic under-perceptions of discrimination among the less integrated but lacks a measure of actual discrimination to assess this assumption. I will conclude my talk by elaborating on a new (trust game) experimental research design that overcomes this problem and allows to measure individual-level mis-perceptions of discrimination. We currently implement this novel experimental design among a random sample 3,000 persons living in one of Germany's five largest cities. 

The Sociology Seminar Series for Hilary Term is convened by Nicholas Martindale. For more information about this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact