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Early Origins of Social Cohesion in Increasingly Diverse Societies

Project description

Early origins of social cohesion

Social cohesion in diverse societies is threatened by in-group favouritism and out-group discrimination. However, the causes and consequences of in-group and out-group biases are not yet understood. The EU-funded KIDSNGROUPS project will focus on the early life cycle, childhood to be precise, performing research on the causal origins of in-group and out-group inclinations. The project will study the role of vertical socialisation (e.g. the family’s role) and horizontal socialisation (e.g. imitation and learning). KIDSNGROUPS will propose an innovative combination of experimental methods, administrative records, and advanced econometric techniques to deliver a comprehensive picture of the origins and the impact of social cohesion and elucidate its economic relevance, generating essential knowledge for the EU’s public policy.


In-group favouritism and out-group discrimination are ubiquitous phenomena, threatening social cohesion in diverse societies. Notwithstanding growing urgency, we lack a systematic understanding of the causes and consequences of in-group out-group biases, or to put it more broadly, of social cohesion.

KIDSNGROUPS will open frontiers to advance our knowledge on social cohesion by focusing on the early life cycle, and thus the most formative years in people’s life. Its main objective is to break ground regarding the causal origins of in-group out-group preferences. For this purpose, it will study the role of the family (vertical socialization) and other socialization processes like imitation and learning (horizontal socialization) in shaping children’s in-group out-group preferences. Moreover, it will shed novel light on the economic relevance of social cohesion. To the extent that in-group favouritism and out-group discrimination prevent children from helping each other, they may hamper children’s welfare, and thus the future of diverse societies.

Striving to provide a comprehensive picture of the origins and the impact of social cohesion, KIDSNGROUPS will draw upon methods from the frontier of various research fields. In particular, it will propose an innovative combination of i) experimental methods to study in- and out-group phenomena, ii) administrative records to get access to large-scale, non-selected samples and hands on high quality measures of children’s human capital, and iii) state-of-the-art econometric techniques to infer causality. In so doing, KIDSNGROUPS will open up new avenues for any science interested in people’s behaviour.

In summary, KIDSNGROUPS will not only advance in a creative and significant manner an active research area, it will also impact public policy by generating essential insights on one of the most urgent topics on Europe’s political agenda.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 407 391,45
78464 Konstanz

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Baden-Württemberg Freiburg Konstanz
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 407 391,45

Beneficiaries (2)