Returns to Citizenship? Evidence from Germany's Recent Immigration Reforms

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 11.03.2014, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Christina Gathmann (Heidelberg University)


In many countries, immigrants have lower employment rates and lower earnings than natives. We study whether a more liberal access to citizenship can improve the economic integration of immigrants. Our analysis relies on two major immigration reforms in Germany, a country with a relatively weak record of immigrant assimilation. For identification , we exploit discontinuities in the eligibility rules between adolescent and adult immigrants. Between 1990 and 1999, adolescents could obtain German citizenship after eight years, while adults needed 15 years of residency in Germany. Since 2000, all immigrants face an 8 years residency requirement. OLS estimates show a strong positive correlation between naturalization and labor market performance. Based on the eligibility rules, we find few returns of citizenship for men, but substantial returns for women. Returns are also larger for more recent immigrants, but essentially zero for traditional guest workers. Overall, liberalization of citizenship seems to carry some benefits but is not by itself enough to obtain full economic and social integration of immigrants.

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