Access to Citizenship and the Economic Assimilation of Immigrants

57 Pages Posted: 26 May 2017

See all articles by Christina Gathmann

Christina Gathmann

Alfred-Weber Institut; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Nicolas Keller

Heidelberg University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 24, 2017


Immigrants in many countries have lower employment rates and earnings than natives. We analyze whether a more liberal citizenship policy improves the economic assimilation of immigrants in the host country. The empirical analysis relies on two reforms which created exogenous variation in the waiting time for citizenship across arrival year and birth cohorts. We find that faster access to citizenship improves the economic situation of immigrant women which is largely explained by a much stronger labor market attachment with higher employment rates, longer working hours and more stable jobs. Immigrants also invest more in host country-specific skills, especially vocational training and language ability. Overall, our results indicate that faster access to citizenship is a powerful policy instrument to boost economic integration in countries with traditionally restrictive citizenship policies.

Keywords: Citizenship, Assimilation, Germany

JEL Classification: J61, K37, J24, J15

Suggested Citation

Gathmann, Christina and Keller, Nicolas, Access to Citizenship and the Economic Assimilation of Immigrants (May 24, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Christina Gathmann (Contact Author)

Alfred-Weber Institut ( email )

Bergheimer Str. 20
Heidelberg, 69115

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072


CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679


Nicolas Keller

Heidelberg University ( email )

Grabengasse 1
Heidelberg, 69117

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