Beyond the liberal paradox? Immigration and Citizenship Policies in 21 OECD countries 1980-2010

Samuel Schmid, European University Institute (EUI)

As a challenge to democracies’ sovereignty, self-determination, and social cohesion, immigration can pose several risks. Among these risks are the granting of entry and citizenship to newcomers. The risk of granting entry can be reduced by selecting manageable numbers of immigrants that create more benefits than costs. Also, entry restrictions can be imposed to protect the integrity of national communities, which in turn also reduces the risk of granting citizenship. Against this background, one could expect that immigrant-receiving democracies create selective borders, and that only under these conditions citizenship policies can be made inclusive. These propositions of a trade-off between the openness toward different immigrant groups and a trade-off between entry regime openness (ERO) and citizenship regime inclusiveness (CRI) can be deduced from the widely recognized thesis of the liberal paradox. Contrary to the implications of the paradox thesis, in this paper I argue that there need not be a conflict between economic forces pushing for openness and political forces pushing for closure. Instead, economic liberalism and political liberalism are two sides of the same coin. Self-limiting the sovereignty of liberal states by the complementary and expansive dynamics of client and constitutional politics, the structures and ideologies of economic liberalism and political liberalism should make entry regimes more coherent and open than often assumed. Contrary to the notion of a consistent trade-off or negative correlation between ERO and CRI, I propose that entry regimes and citizenship regimes configure along two distinct and statistically independent dimensions. Based on an original combination of novel datasets to measure ERO and CRI across 21 OECD countries from 1980 to 2010, the empirical analysis uses a variant of principal component analysis to show that entry policies targeting labor immigrants, family migrants, and asylum seekers and refugees are positively correlated and can indeed be reduced to a single consistent dimension. Various components of citizenship policies emerge as a separate and consistent dimension of their own. Overall, a pooled analysis shows that ERO and CRI show only a minimal negative correlation. The paper thus provides evidence contradicting the notions of an internal trade-off in ERO and of a trade-off between ERO and CRI. These results suggest that these implications of the liberal paradox do not exist, at least not at this general level. Further research is needed to uncover potentially dynamic relationships and policy configurations across space and over time. Regarding policy trends, the paper finds that both ERO and CRI have increased overall. However, after 2001 there has been a restrictive turn in both dimensions. 

About the speaker

Sam is a PhD researcher at the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute in Florence. Supervised by Rainer Bauböck and Maarten Vink, he investigates the relationship between the openness of borders and the inclusiveness of citizenship. Further fields of research include democratic inclusion and the franchise in an age of migration as well as attitudinal and behavioral research in the realm of immigrant integration. Sam holds a BA in Political Science (summa cum laude), a MA in World Society and Global Governance (summa cum laude) from the University of Lucerne, Switzerland, and a MRes from the European University Institute. During and after his studies, he also worked as a research associate, teaching assistant and junior lecturer at Department of Political Science in Lucerne. In addition, Sam has contributed to the GLOBALCIT Observatory as a research associate to help develop and code the ELECLAW indicators (database on electoral rights). He continues to be involved in this ongoing and expanding project at the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies at the EUI.

Venue: 1.23

Date: 21 February 2018

Time: 13:00 - 14:00