Volume 36 - Article 43 | Pages 1299–1336

The impact of citizenship on intermarriage: Quasi-experimental evidence from two European Union Eastern enlargements

By Davide Azzolini, Raffaele Guetto

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter

 

 
Date received:28 Oct 2016
Date published:25 Apr 2017
Word count:7874
Keywords:assimilation, citizenship, immigration, intermarriage, Italy, legal status, quasi-experiment
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2017.36.43
 

Abstract

Background: According to assimilation theory, the more immigrants are integrated within host countries the more likely they are to intermarry. However, status exchange theory argues instead that when integration is low, immigrants may use intermarriage as a means of improving their integration prospects in host countries, in which case an increase in levels of integration would reduce immigrants’ propensity to intermarry.

Objective: To test these two hypotheses, this paper assesses the causal effect of a positive shift in immigrants’ level of integration, namely the acquisition of citizenship, on intermarriage in Italy. Over the past 20 years Italy has experienced an unprecedented growth in intermarriage involving primarily Eastern European women.

Methods: We study two EU Eastern enlargements, following which citizens of the new EU member countries became EU citizens and thus experienced a marked improvement in their legal status. We apply the synthetic control method to data on marriages between native men and foreign women.

Results: We find that the acquisition of citizenship has a significant negative impact on immigrant women’s propensity to marry native men. That impact is much greater for immigrants coming from less affluent countries.

Conclusions: Our results support the status exchange hypothesis. This can be explained by the poor socioeconomic integration and precarious legal status of immigrants in Italy.

Contribution: The growth of intermarriage per se cannot be seen as an indicator of greater immigrant integration. The negative impact of citizenship acquisition on immigrants’ propensity to intermarry also calls for a rethinking of the role of institutions such as marriage and citizenship in the process of immigrant integration.

Author's Affiliation

Davide Azzolini - Istituto per la Ricerca Valutativa sulle Politiche Pubbliche (IRVAPP), Italy [Email]
Raffaele Guetto - Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» The ethnic wage penalty in Western European regions: Is the European integration model confirmed when differences within countries are considered?
Volume 46 - Article 23

» Parental education, divorce, and children’s educational attainment: Evidence from a comparative analysis
Volume 46 - Article 3

» Family arrangements and children’s educational outcomes: Heterogeneous penalties in upper-secondary school
Volume 40 - Article 35

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Multiple (il)legal pathways: The diversity of immigrants' legal trajectories in Belgium
Volume 47 - Article 10    | Keywords: immigration, legal status

» Race and agriculture during the assimilation era: Evidence from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Volume 46 - Article 37    | Keywords: assimilation, intermarriage

» Assimilation and ethnic marriage-squeeze in early 20th century America: A gender perspective
Volume 42 - Article 4    | Keywords: assimilation, intermarriage

» How integrated are immigrants?
Volume 33 - Article 46    | Keywords: immigration, intermarriage

» Assimilation effects on infant mortality among immigrants in Norway: Does maternal source country matter?
Volume 31 - Article 26    | Keywords: assimilation, immigration