Administrative Inequality: The Case of Foreign Nationals in Germany (AdmIn)

Project description

Aims and central research questions

Foreign nationals face a considerable risk of both negative and positive discrimination when they are applying for visa, work permits, asylum or passports. The AdmIn project examines the unequal decisions of German administrators and judges with regard to naturalization and visa applications and how the perceived inequities influence the behaviour of the potential applicants. The key objective is to offer systematic assessment of administrative decision-making discrimination towards foreign nationals with a limited set of outside options. To this end, AdmIn will develop and test a new unifying model of administrative leeway with the help of original administrative and interview data.


It is well established that asylum seekers are treated differently across the European Union and its member states. The potential administrative discrimination that foreign nationals experience when filing visa applications or naturalization requests have not yet been frequently explored. The project will test, based on sound legal reasoning and an encompassing model, whether the inequities can be traced back to what is known as taste-based or statistical discrimination. While the former behavior reflects the prejudice of the decision maker, the latter form of discrimination arises when bureaucrats and judges do not possess sufficient information to assess a file. Since the direct observation of discriminatory behavior is not possible in this domain, the AdmIn project will resort to indirect strategies to estimate the size of both positive and negative discrimination of different groups of foreign nationals. 


  • Game theory
  • Webscraping and automated content analysis
  • Legal reasoning
  • Interviews
  • Econometrics


Politics and Public Administration, Public Law

Starting date:



Publications and Working Papers

Zeitschrift für Ausländerrecht und Ausländerpolitik (ZAR): "Vertrauen ist gut, Replikation ist besser : Für eine evidenz-basierte Asylpolitik : Replik auf Ursula Gräfin Praschma" - Gerald Schneider (2021).

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Fluchtforschungsblock: "Fakten statt Meinungen: für eine evidenzbasierte Asylpolitik" - Gerald Schneider (2021)

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Related Works


Breunig, C., and A. Luedtke. 2008. What Motivates the Gatekeepers? Explaining Governing Party Preferences on Immigration. Governance 21(1): 123–146.

Breunig, C., X. Cao, and A. Luedtke. 2012. Global Migration and Political Regime Type: A Democratic Disadvantage. British Journal of Political Science 42(04): 825–854.

Holzer, T., G. Schneider, and T. Widmer. 2000. Discriminating Decentralization: Federalism and the Handling of Asylum Applications in Switzerland, 1988-1996. Journal of Conflict Resolution 44 (2): 250–276.

Schneider, G., N. Segadlo, and M. Leue. 2020. Forty-Eight Shades of Germany: Positive and Negative Discrimination in Federal Asylum Decision Making. German Politics (in print): 1-18.

Thym, D. 2013. Separation versus Fusion – or: How to Accommodate National Autonomy and the Charter? European Constitutional Law Review 9: 391–419.

Thym, D. 2016. The ‘Refugee Crisis’ as a Challenge of Legal Design and Institutional Legitimacy, Common Market Law Review 53: 1545–1574.

Zuber, C.I. 2011. Understanding the Multinational Game: Toward a Theory of Asymmetrical Federalism. Comparative Political Studies 44(5): 546-571.

Zuber, C.I. 2019. Explaining the Immigrant Integration Laws of German, Italian and Spanish Regions: Sub-State Nationalism and Multi-Level Party Politics. Regional Studies (in print)