Hannah Alarian – Local suffrage increases citizenship acquisition

Monday February 22, 2021
12:15 PM - 2:00 PM

Local Suffrage Increases Citizenship Acquisition: Evidence from the European Union

An online talk by:
Dr. Hannah Alarian
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Florida

Monday, February 22, 2021
12:15 – 1:30 p.m. (PST)

* Co-sponsored with the UBC Institute for European Studies *

[ Abstract ]
Do local immigrant voting rights increase citizenship acquisition? Although some contend immigrants acquire citizenship when the relative benefits of acquisition are greater than its costs, Prof. Alarian posits that immigrant inclusion is path dependent – such that early suffrage could encourage rather than deter naturalization. This theory was tested with a series of cross-national and quantitative case-study analyses. First, Prof. Alarian examined the effect of municipal suffrage on naturalization in the EU using bilateral OECD acquisition figures among 14 EU destinations and 127 non-EU origins between 2007 and 2014. Second, she estimated the causal effect of non-EU suffrage by exploiting origin-specific variation in access to Spain’s 2011 municipal elections. Across each analysis, Prof. Alarian finds local voting rights increases formal membership. She further reveals these patterns are not present for other forms of non-citizen political rights. These findings challenge cost-benefit approaches to national membership, revealing suffrage reinforces rather than degrades citizenship.