Preprint Open Access

Discrimination driven by variation in local conservatism: evidence from a nationwide field experiment

Lacroix, Julie; Ruedin, Didier; Zschirnt, Eva

We examine how contextual variation in aggregated political attitudes shapes ethnic discrimination. Using a field experiment with national coverage we identify ethnic discrimination in the Swiss housing market (N = 7,533 queries for viewings from fictitious persons who vary by name to signal ethnic origin). We use referendums and popular initiatives to identify the aggregated political attitudes at the municipality level in two dimensions: social conservatism and economic conservatism. We show that although aggregated levels of discrimination are low, discrimination varies spatially – higher levels of discrimination are found in municipalities that are both socially and economically conservative. Municipalities that are economically conservative, but socially liberal also tend to exhibit ethnic discrimination. By contrast, we find no evidence of ethnic discrimination in municipalities that are socially conservative, but economically liberal. Considering how the literature highlights social conservatism when discussing the role of political ideology on attitudes and ethnic discrimination, this result highlights how differentiating different forms of conservatism helps better understand the relationship between ideology and behaviour – in this case ethnic discrimination.

This work was supported by the National Center of Competence in Research nccr - on the move funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Swiss Office for Housing (BWO), and the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS). This research is also part of the project "Family Changes and Migration Dynamics" funded by the SNSF (Postdoc.Mobility grant P400PS_199269/1).
Files (692.9 kB)
Name Size
692.9 kB Download
  • Lacroix, Julie, Didier Ruedin, and Eva Zschirnt. 2022. "Discrimination Driven by Variation in Local Conservatism: Evidence from a Nationwide Field Experiment." European Sociological Review. doi: 10.1093/esr/jcac051.

Views 16
Downloads 37
Data volume 25.6 MB
Unique views 15
Unique downloads 34


Cite as