Immigrant citizenship status in Europe: the role of individual characteristics and national policies

The acquisition of citizenship status in the new country of residence may depend on (1) the individual immigrant’s characteristics, (2) the structural characteristics of both the origin and the destination countries and (3) institutional factors in the destination country including policy factors, specifically the national citizenship policies. Although almost all European countries have shifted from a ‘nationalist’ to a more ‘multiculturalist’ citizenship policy, thus formally liberalising the access to citizenship rights, in Europe the opportunities for obtaining citizenship status in the new country of residence are still quite limited for many immigrants and their descendants. In addition, the conditions under which immigrants become naturalised citizens vary widely between countries. Indeed, there are many differences in policies on the right to citizenship in terms of the residence requirements for naturalisation, citizenship by birth, acceptance of dual citizenship and language requirements. The aim of this paper is to examine, through a logistic regression model with cluster-robust standard errors, the effect of both individual-level characteristics and measures of national citizenship policies on the likelihood of citizenship status amongst young and adult immigrants living in six European countries, i.e. Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, using data from the Immigrant Citizens Survey (ICS). The results show a considerable effect of individual characteristics on citizenship status. However, the effect of policy factors is also important. In particular, a lower residence requirement for naturalisation and a more inclusive environment favour immigrants becoming citizens of the new country of residence.

Angela Paparusso, Immigrant citizenship status in Europe: the role of individual characteristics and national policies, Genus Journal of Population Sciences, 2019.