Catalyst or Crown: Does Naturalization Promote the Long-Term Social Integration of Immigrants?
We study the impact of naturalization on the long-term social integration of immigrants
into the host country society. Despite ongoing debates about citizenship policy, we lack reliable
evidence that isolates the causal eect of naturalization from the non-random selection
into naturalization. We exploit the quasi-random assignment of citizenship in Swiss municipalities that used referendums to decide on naturalization applications of immigrants.
Comparing otherwise similar immigrants who narrowly won or narrowly lost their naturalization
referendums, we nd that receiving Swiss citizenship strongly improved long-term
social integration. We also nd that the integration returns to naturalization are much
larger for more marginalized immigrant groups and somewhat larger when naturalization
occurs earlier, rather than later in the residency period. Overall, our ndings support the
policy paradigm arguing that naturalization is a catalyst for improving the social integration
of immigrants rather than merely the crown on the completed integration process.