The Naturalization of U.S. Immigrants: Why Citizenship Rates Differ by State

Authors

  • Tamara Woroby Towson University ( U of MD System)and Johns Hopkins University
  • Melissa Groves Towson University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18533/rss.v1i7.45

Keywords:

Citizenship rates, Mexican immigrants, Naturalization, U.S. immigration, Undocumented immigration.

Abstract

This paper investigates the extent to which the geographic region in which an immigrant resides influences the propensity to naturalize, by specifically analyzing the variation in U.S. immigrant citizenship rates across states. By merging Census data with other forms of publically available state level data, we are able to better understand why state naturalization rates in the U.S. vary so dramatically, from a low of about 30% to a high of almost 60%. We utilize composite variables in a simple OLS framework to maximize sample size and test to ensure our estimates are unbiased and valid for statistical inference. We find that while applying for citizenship is an individual decision, both institutional and group variables influence this decision. Consistent with prior research, our results indicate that a more favorable economic environment is correlated with higher naturalization rates and that the clustering of Mexicans discourages naturalization. Our results also indicate that states that are more socially and politically welcoming to immigrants have statistically higher rates of naturalization, and that there are no significant negative effects on naturalization rates in states with larger numbers of undocumented immigrants. Our research contributes to the growing body of literature on naturalization decisions and supports the proposition that attitudes towards immigrants, be they authorized or undocumented, influence the extent to which the foreign born will choose to become fuller participants in U.S. society.

Author Biographies

Tamara Woroby, Towson University ( U of MD System)and Johns Hopkins University

Professor of Economics and Senior Adjunct Professor

Melissa Groves, Towson University

Associate Professor of Economics

References

Ashby, N., (2007). Economic freedom and migration flows between U.S. states. Southern Economic Journal 73 (3): 667-697

Ashby, N., (2010). Freedom and international migration. Southern Economic Journal 77 (1): 49 – 62. July. http://dx.doi.org/10.4284/sej.2010.77.1.49

Auclair, G., and Jeanne B., (2013). Naturalization trends in the United States. Migration Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.

Baker, B., (2010.) Naturalization rates among IRCA immigrants: a 2009 update. Office of Immigration Statistics. United States Department of Homeland Security.

Baker, B. and Nancy R., (2014). Estimates of the lawful permanent resident population in the United States: January 2013. Office of Immigration Statistics. United States Department of Homeland Security.

Bloemraad, I., (2006). Becoming a Citizen: Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Bouvier, L. F, (1996). Embracing America. Center for Immigration Studies. Washington, D.C.

Bratsberg, B., Ragan, J., and Nasir, Z., (2002). The effect of naturalisation on wage growth: a panel study of young male immigrants. Journal of Labor Economics 20 (3): 568-597. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/339616

Camarota, S., (2011). A record-setting decade of immigration: 2000-2010. Center for Immigration Studies. Washington, D.C.

Chiswick, B., (1978). The effect of americanization on the earnings of foreign-born Mexicans. Journal of Political Economy 69:897-921. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/260717

Citizenship and Immigration Canada, (2014). Canadian Multiculturalism: An Inclusive Citizenship. Available at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/multiculturalism/citizenship.asp.

DeVoretz, D., and Bevelander, P., (2014). The economic case for a clear, quick pathway to citizenship: evidence from Europe and North America. Center for American Progress.

Fix, M., Passel, J., and Sucher, K., (2003). Immigrant families and workers: trends in naturalization. Urban Institute Immigration Studies Program.

Griffith, A., (2013). Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism. Anar Press.

Gonzales-Barrera, A., Hugo Lopez, M., Passel, J.S., and Taylor, P., (2013). The path not taken: two-thirds of legal Mexican immigrants are not U.S. citizens. Pew Research Center.

Lee, J., (2013). U.S. Naturalizations: 2012. United States Department of Homeland Security.

Leon, C., and Aleman, A.H., (2014). Immigrants' decision to stay in the Canary Islands: a latent class approach. Regional Studies 48 (10): 396-403.

Newton, L., (1998). Why Latinos supported Proposition 187: testing the economic threat and cultural identity hypotheses. Center for the Study of Democracy. UC Irvine Research Papers.

OECD, (2011). Naturalization: A Passport for the Better Integration of Immigrants? OECD Press.

Park, H., (2015). Which states make life easier or harder for illegal immigrants? New York Times. March 29

Passel, J., (2007). Growing share of immigrants choosing naturalization. Pew Research Center. March.

Passel, J., and D'Vera C., (2011). Unauthorized immigrant population: national and state trends, 2010. Pew Research Center. February.

Passel, J., (2015). Unauthorized immigrant population: national and state trends, industries and occupations. Testimony to U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. March 26.

Pastor, M., and Scoggins, J., (2012). Citizen gain: the economic benefits of naturalization for immigrants and the economy. Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, University of Southern California.

Pastor, M., and Sanchez, J., (2012). Rock the (naturalized) vote: the size and location of the recently naturalized voting age citizen population. Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, University of Southern California. October.

Pastor, M., and Marcelli, E. A., (2013). What's at stake for the state: undocumented Californians, immigration reform and our future together. Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, University of Southern California. May.

Peridy, N., (2006). Welfare magnets, border effects or policy regulations: what determinants drive migration flows into the EU? Global Economy Journal 6 (4):1 – 35. http://dx.doi.org/10.2202/1524-5861.1186

Picot, G., and Hou, F., (2011a). Citizenship acquisition in Canada and the United States: determinants and economic benefit. In Naturalisation: A Passport for the Better Integration of Immigrants? Paris. OECD Press.

Picot, G., and Hou, F., (2011b). Divergent Trends in Citizenship Rates among Immigrants in Canada and the United States. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Sumption, M., and Flamm, S., (2012). The economic value of citizenship for immigrants in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. September.

Taylor, D. G., (2006). The naturalization trail: Mexican naturalization and U.S. citizenship. Latino Research 3 (2): 1 – 8.

United States Senate, (2013). Bill S.744 – The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Washington, DC.

Yang, P. Q., (1994). Explaining immigrant naturalization. International Migration Review 28 (3): 449-77. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2546816

Downloads

Published

2016-07-12

Issue

Section

Articles