Discrimination against mobile European Union citizens before and during the first COVID-19 lockdown: Evidence from a conjoint experiment in Germany

Expected effects on the prioritization of different profiles.


One of the greatest achievements of the EU is the freedom of movement between member states offering citizens equal rights in EU member states. EU enlargement and the COVID-19 pandemic allow for a critical test of whether EU citizens are indeed treated equally in practice. We test preferential treatment of EU citizens in two hypothetical choice experiments in Germany at two different time points: in the period before and during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Theories of responses to threat suggest that the COVID-19 crisis should increase discrimination against mobile EU citizens. While our findings reveal sizeable discrimination based on nationality and language proficiency of mobile EU citizens, the findings also suggest that, contrary to expectations, discrimination did not increase in the initial COVID-19 crisis period.

European Union Politics

Online appendix

The online appendix contains an extension of the procedures and results presented in the paper; the JAGS code for the statistical model, and the ggmcmc output for convergence diagnostics of the model parameters.

Dataset, code and replication material

The code for producing the results of the paper is available in the [supplementary material page] of the journal, as a very simply snippet of code. We also provide its detailed version:

Available as:

  • PDF (7.8 Mb, 54 pgs), containing the main report in PDF with all the code.
  • HTML (78 Mb), containing the main report in HTML with all the code.
  • ZIP, containing all the data and R code necessary to replicate the main report.


The pre-registration is available at the Center for Open Science.


The figures in the journal are quite small, and are reproduced here in high quality vectorial formats (SVG is shown, and pdf is available below):

Figure 2

Figure 2: Exposure to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis in Germany.

pdf version

Figure 3

Figure 3: distribution of the median expected utilities for each of the individuals analysed and each feature.

pdf version