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Who gets a Swiss passport?: a natural experiment in immigrant discrimination

Hangartner, Dominik and Hainmueller, Jens (2013) Who gets a Swiss passport?: a natural experiment in immigrant discrimination. American Political Science Review, 107 (1). pp. 159-187. ISSN 0003-0554

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0003055412000494


We study discrimination against immigrants using micro-level data from Switzerland, where, until recently, some municipalities used referenda to decide on the citizenship applications of their foreign residents. We show that naturalization decisions vary dramatically with the attributes of the immigrants, which we collect from official applicant descriptions that voters received prior to each plebiscite. Country of origin determines naturalization success more than any other applicant characteristic, including language skills, integration status, or economic credentials. Rejection rates for applicants from former Yugoslavia and Turkey are about 40 % higher compared to observably similar applicants from richer European countries. Both statistical and taste-based discrimination contribute to this differential treatment; the rewards for economic credentials are higher for applicants from disadvantaged origins, and origin-based discrimination is much stronger in more xenophobic municipalities. Moreover, discrimination against different immigrant groups responds dynamically to shifts in their relative size. Overall, the results suggest that discrimination in naturalization referenda is widespread but not universal

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 American Political Science Association
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2013 10:37
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2024 22:00
Projects: 100017_132004
Funders: Swiss National Science

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