The IES European Transitions Speaker Series: Hannah Alarian

February 22, 2021

12:15pm – 1:30pm
Hannah Alarian, Assistant Professor, University of Florida

Local Suffrage Increases Citizenship Acquisition: Evidence from the European Union

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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.

Hannah M. Alarian is currently an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida, where she also is a faculty affiliate with the Center for Arts, Migration, and Entrepreneurship and Center for European Studies. Her research examines topics of migrant integration, immigration, political identity and participation, and public policy. Her research broadly examines the processes through which immigrants are included in and excluded from their new societies.