Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences - Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Yannick Miro Harksen

Yannick Miro Harksen

BGSS Generation 2022



"Approaching the Migrant-Native Wealth Gap in Germany from a Life Course Perspective: Differences across Cohorts, (Life-)Time, and Generations"



Prof. Dr. Philipp Lersch



Modern western societies have experienced extreme increases in economic inequality in recent decades. Especially wealth inequality has reached levels similar to the pre-war period. Germany is not an exception to this trend and is currently one of the most unequal western societies with regard to wealth. The extraordinary increase in wealth inequality in Germany was accompanied by large influxes of migrants since the late 1950s. While many migrants show exceptionally high aspirations for social mobility, they are disadvantaged in many life spheres in Germany. Much research has delved into these disparities, but only a marginal share has aimed to describe and explain migrant wealth disparities in Germany. My dissertation project seeks to investigate migrant wealth disparities in Germany from multiple perspectives of the life course to shed light on this understudied topic. The first paper aims to provide detailed descriptive analyses of native-migrant gaps in net wealth as well as selected assets across historical time, birth cohorts, and migrant generations. Within the second paper, the native-migrant wealth gap over the individual wealth distribution will be investigated across time and cohorts from a causal perspective. Departing from previous research that includes all potentially explanatory variables within a multivariable framework paired with decomposition methods, I will estimate gap-closing estimands across the distribution to understand the role differing homeownership rates play in causally explaining observed gaps. The third chapter zooms in and investigates migrant disparities across the individual life course and within the family by integrating inter- and intragenerational perspectives on individual wealth attainment trajectories from absolute and relative wealth mobility perspectives. Thus, my dissertation will not only provide a more wholesome perspective on migrant wealth disparities but will also open up avenues for future research on this understudied topic and eventually inform the decision-making processes of policymakers who are engaged in mitigating such inter-group inequalities.