German job centres discriminate against people with foreign-sounding names: study

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German job centres discriminate against people with foreign-sounding names: study
File photo of the job centre in Leipzig: DPA.

When dealing with inquiries, employees at job centres in Germany tend to discriminate against people with names that sound foreign, according to a report released on Friday.


Researchers from the Social Science Research Centre in Berlin (WBZ) sent 408 emails to job centres inquiring about the documents necessary for unemployment benefit Hartz IV applications.

The fictitious emails were sent in 2014 and 2015 from imaginary people with six German, Turkish and Romanian-sounding names. The emails varied in terms of profession, gender and writing style.

While the authorities answered all of the emails regardless of name, the findings of the report showed that those with foreign names more often received insufficient and less detailed information compared to those with German names.

WBZ experts who carried out the study, Anselm Rink and Johannes Hemker (a researcher at Columbia University at the time), explained that this "lack of information" could have discouraged them from submitting an inquiry.

The job centres were located all across Germany and selected at random.

Findings of the study also reveal that west German authorities performed worse than east German authorities. Additionally, job centres that report directly to the Federal Employment Agency (BA) were "clearly" more informative than those under municipal administration.

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