Mixed Signals: How the Ambiguous German Citizenship Law Reform of 2000 Affected Immigrant Naturalisation Propensity

Dr. Swantje Falcke, FASoS, Maastricht University

It is well-established that destination country citizenship policies shape naturalisation outcomes by setting conditions under which one becomes eligible to naturalise. In this context, liberalization is assumed – ceteris paribus – to increase naturalisation propensity, while restrictive reforms result in fewer migrants acquiring citizenship. Yet, what happens when policy-makers provide mixed signals to immigrants? The reform of the German citizenship law in 2000 is such an example as it included major liberalizing elements, in particular the reduction of the residency requirement from 15 to 8 years, but also restrictive elements such as increased fees and additional language proficiency requirements. Moreover, dual citizenship was facilitated by exempting more groups from the requirement to renounce one’s former citizenship, yet is also became easier to lose German citizenship after (re)acquiring another citizenship. Additionally, the introduction of ‘ius soli’ for immigrant children decreased the intergenerational motive to naturalise. While it is clear that this ambiguous reform resulted in declining naturalisation rates in Germany since 2000, it remains unclear which elements of the reform affected which groups of migrants in which way. Using data from the German-Socio-Economic Panel Study (waves 2002-2016) we analyse the effect of the reform in 2000 on the naturalisation propensity of first generation immigrants residing in Germany. We empirically disentangle how the naturalisation propensity for immigrants was affected by the introduction of ‘ius soli’ (i.e. immigrants with children), by dual citizenship reforms (i.e. immigrants from countries with dual citizenship acceptance) and by higher fees and language requirements (i.e. low income and less educated immigrants).



About the speaker

Swantje Falcke is a post-doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences where she works on the ERC-project “Migrant Life Course and Legal Status Transitions” (https://www.milifestatus.com/). She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Mannheim and a Master’s degree in Economics of Public Policy and Management at Utrecht University, where she also completed her PhD. Her research interests include: migration, citizenship, and ethnic penalties in the labor market.

Venue: 1.23

Date: 19 September 2018

Time: 13:00 - 14:00  CET