Discrimination based on name

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Discrimination on the basis of the name refers to the discrimination of a person because of their pre- or surname .

Empirical data

According to a study, children with certain first names have poorer chances in school, both with regard to the allocation of grades and the transfer to high school. In Germany these are English-sounding names, often inspired by stars , which were popular in the GDR . The discussion about this phenomenon is also called " Kevinism ".

After further studies on discrimination in the labor market, applications that differed only in their name (first name and surname) and in which German was given as their mother tongue were much more frequently invited to an interview if a typically German name was given. than if a Turkish name was given. According to another study, the disadvantage of migrants also depends on the size of the company: the rate of discrimination in small companies with fewer than six employees is significantly higher than in medium-sized and large companies. The phenomenon of discrimination against applicants with foreign names is not limited to Germany, as a study from Canada shows. In the USA, Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan already found in 2003 that people with Afro-American names were disadvantaged in the labor market, regardless of qualification and gender.

Discrimination against people with foreign names can also often be observed on the housing market. In Germany, people with Turkish or Arabic names are particularly disadvantaged. Male applicants are more discriminated than women. Other factors also play a role: a study on discrimination in the German housing market, in which candidates with Turkish or German names responded by telephone to housing advertisements and stated that they were moving to the city for professional reasons, showed no measurable discrimination against people Turkish name unless they had an accent .


Anonymous application procedures have been suggested as a possible measure to avoid or reduce discrimination based on name in job applications . Even anonymous tests at universities have been proposed.

To avoid discrimination or for the purpose of integration or assimilation , people sometimes apply for a name change . Whether such a request is granted depends on national legislation. The regulations for a possible return to the maiden name at a later date also differ from country to country. When making a personal decision, it must be taken into account that one's own name is an essential part of one's identity .

The approach of advising parents to choose an inconspicuous first name from the outset when a child is born is controversial.



In Germany, discrimination is known both when looking for work and when looking for accommodation.

The General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), pursuant to § 1 "to prevent discrimination on grounds of race or ethnic origin, gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual identity or eliminate" the goal. This law defines in § 7 a prohibition of discrimination with reference to the disadvantages mentioned in § 1.

In January 2020, a housing company was sentenced to pay compensation of 3,000 euros for discrimination against an application with a Turkish-sounding name.

Name changes according to German law

In Germany there are strict legal limits for name changes. According to Section 3 (1) NamÄndG, a family name can only be changed if there is an important reason to justify the change . Since May 24, 2007, it has also been possible to adjust the name when changing the name right when naturalizing ( Art. 47 EGBGB). Due to the declaration of approximation according to § 47 EGBGB, an earlier function of names (e.g. proper name, patronymic, etc.) that is foreign to German law may be irrevocably lost. To a certain extent, name changes are also possible for repatriates ( Section 94 of the Federal Expellees Act ), following a name change made during a habitual residence in another EU member state ( Art. 48 EGBGB) and in the event of marriage, divorce or adoption.

According to case law, discrimination on the basis of a name in the labor market does not justify a fundamental right to a name change. The Augsburg Administrative Court ruled in 2010: “An obligation on the part of the state authorities to change the name of a person in application of the general clause of § 3 NamÄndG in order to protect them from discrimination in working life can only be made under consideration of the public interest of name continuity exist if the other state measures to protect against discrimination on the labor market fall short of the minimum constitutionally required. ”The aspect of integration promotion was taken into account in 2011 in a judgment of the VG Düsseldorf regarding the assumption of an important reason. More generally, the Göttingen Administrative Court ruled in 2012 that the desire for integration in and of itself does not regularly constitute an important reason for changing a foreign name.


During the time of National Socialism , compulsory names were introduced in Germany: From January 1939, Jews had to also adopt the first name Israel or Sara, unless they already had a Jewish first name that was “considered typical among the German people” ( see: Name Change Ordinance ). This marking was a step towards increasing exclusion of the Jewish minority .

The name was given on ID cards, and letters to government offices, letterheads and practice signs also had to show this name.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Bianca Kühnel, Ina Richter: Discrimination because of names: Mandy's suffering. MiGAZIN, February 27, 2012, accessed May 20, 2017 .
  2. ^ Leo Kaas, Christian Manger: Ethnic Discrimination in Germany's Labor Market: A Field Experiment . IZA DP, No. 4741 . Constance 2010 ( iza.org [PDF]).
  3. a b Frauke Lüpke-Narberhaus: First name discrimination: "Nobody wants an Ali in the team". Spiegel online, March 26, 2014, accessed May 20, 2017 .
  4. ^ First names prejudices - results of different studies. In: career kebap. August 9, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2017 .
  5. ^ Jan Schneider, Ruta Yemane, Martin Weinmann: Discrimination on the training market: extent, causes and perspectives for action. (No longer available online.) Advisory Council of German Foundations for Integration and Migration (SVR), 2014, archived from the original on October 25, 2017 ; Retrieved October 25, 2017 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. P. 4. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.bosch-stiftung.de
  6. Philip Oreopoulus: Why Do Skilled Immigrants Struggle in the Labor Market? A Field Experiment with Thirteen Thousand Resumes . In: American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 3 . 2011, p. 148-171 ( utoronto.ca [PDF]).
  7. ^ Marianne Bertrand, Sendhil Mullainathan: Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination . No. 9873 . National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2003 ( nber.org [accessed January 22, 2020]).
  8. a b Ethnic Discrimination - Disruptive Factor in the Integration Process. Federal Agency for Civic Education, March 18, 2014, accessed on May 20, 2017 .
  9. Bayrischer Rundfunk & Spiegel Online: We have to stay outside: Why Hanna is invited to visit and Ismail is not. 2017, accessed December 7, 2018 .
  10. Anti-Discrimination Agency draws positive conclusions from the pilot project “Anonymized Application Processes”. MiGAZIN, April 18, 2012, accessed May 20, 2017 .
  11. Susanne Lettenbauer: Anonymous to justice. In: Deutschlandfunk. April 8, 2015, accessed December 1, 2018 .
  12. How an ethnic sounding name may affect the job hunt. The Globe and Mail , November 17, 2011, accessed May 20, 2017 .
  13. Study on integration: vicious circle of discrimination and refusal to integrate. Süddeutsche Zeitung, March 1, 2016, accessed on May 20, 2017 .
  14. Expertise “Discrimination on the Housing Market”. Strategies to prove racial discrimination. Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency , June 15, 2015, accessed on May 20, 2017 .
  15. ^ Citizens Service Berlin - Brandenburg. Retrieved January 22, 2020 .
  16. For the entry into force, see the “Editor's note” on the dejure link Art. 47 EGBGB.
  17. According to No. 37 NamÄndVwV, the following already applied: “Following the naturalization of a foreigner, the family name can be changed if the latter shows the foreign origin of the name bearer to a particular extent and the applicant attaches importance to a more inconspicuous family name in the interest of further integration . "
  18. Information on special name changes through alignment. In: Info sheet. Registry office Fürth, June 18, 2015, accessed on May 20, 2017 .
  19. ^ VG Augsburg, judgment of October 19, 2010, Az. Au 1 K 10.1382 , openjur.de.
  20. ^ VG Düsseldorf, judgment of February 18, 2011, Az. 24 K 1249/10 , openjur.de.
  21. VG Göttingen, judgment of April 25, 2012, Az. 4 A 18/11 , openjur.de.
  22. Antonia Kleikamp: "Sara" and "Israel" were the first Jewish stars. In: world. August 18, 2013, accessed February 3, 2019 .