Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is birthright citizenship any good?

Some countries give citizenship to anybody born on their soil. For others, only the citizenship of parents matters (with various degrees of discrimination against mothers). Whether a kid is citizen or not may matter for his future in the country, in particular how he is integrated in the job market. That seems quite obvious. What about the integration of the parents?

Ciro Avitabile, Irma Clots-Figueras and Paolo Masella take the case of Germany, which recently switched to birthright citizenship. In turns out this change had a positive impact, in that parents tried more to make contact with locals and to use German (as measured by reading German newspapers). The first effect was especially true for parents with less human capital, while the second was stronger for those with more. In other words, once locals are more willing to accept immigrants (by granting their kids citizenship), immigrants return the favor.

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