Diversifying Migration, Changing Policies: Patterns, Causes and Effects of Immigration and Citizenship Regulations

Workshop Number
Workshop Director
Marc Helbling
University of Bamberg
Workshop Co-Director
Maarten Peter Vink
Maastricht Universiteit

Nowadays, migration can best be described with the concept of mixed migration (Czaika and De Haas 2014). Migrants not only arrive from an increasing number of regions but also leave their countries for various economic, political, cultural and social reasons. These developments have led to growing debates in the public arena. Immigration has become a crucial part of the new integration-demarcation cleavage in industrialized countries (Kriesi 2012). And it has been shown that in many Western countries concerns over immigration have had an increasing effect on vote choices especially of right-wing populist parties (Mudde 2007; Norris 2005). This evolution stands in contrast to earlier periods when migration and citizenship have not yet been considered salient issues and have mostly been debated behind closed doors within the bureaucracy (Guiraudon 1998).

Growing inflows of increasingly diverse migrant groups pose completely new challenges to the regulation of migration and citizenship. Accordingly new and diversified regulations have been implemented by various states and existing ones were changed and adapted. These changes have led to a growing interest among social scientists as we need to have an accurate sense of existing policies in a cross-national perspective in order to explain their coming into being, their development and their effectiveness.

For this reason researchers have recently started to quantify immigration and citizenship policies and built databases across time and a large number of countries. These indices are likely to re-connect to political science research the sub-field of migration and citizenship research that has long been disconnected from it in terms of theories and methodology. In other fields, such indices are a well-established instrument for cross-national comparative research for example on democracy and autocracy (e.g., Polity IV) or political rights and civil liberties (e.g., Freedom House). In the migration field, however, research has so far often focused on case studies or small-n comparisons and applied descriptive or normative approaches.

Helbling (2016: 29) counts four databases that focus exclusively on citizenship regulations, five that combine citizenship and integration and 14 that measure immigration policies. With two exceptions they were all built between the mid-2000s and the mid-2010s. Many of these databases have been developed for individual projects and have therefore been put together with very specific research questions in mind. This is most apparent in the immigration policy field, where datasets are not even accessible for other researchers (Bjerre et al. 2015). The sudden rush to quantify citizenship and immigration policy indices entailed that crucial conceptual and methodological questions were largely neglected. It was hardly ever discussed what these indices exactly measure, what the differences between these indices are and why they have been constructed the way they have been constructed. Debates on these questions only started a few years ago (e.g., Bauböck and Helbling 2011; Helbling 2013; Vink and Helbling 2013; Bjerre et al. 2015; Goodman 2015).

There are however also new and more comprehensive datasets that are currently being made available or updated; these datasets aim at overcoming some of the conceptual and methodological shortcomings that we have faced so far (Helbling 2016: 31). The Global Citizenship Observatory (GLOBALCIT) at the European University Institute has released the CITLAW database (Citizenship Law Indicators), which focuses on citizenship policies and covers 42 European states for the year 2011 (Jeffers et al. 2012; Vink and Bauböck 2013). The indicators measure substantive and procedural requirements for various modes of citizenship acquisition or loss. The related GLOBALCIT Global Databases on Modes of Loss and Acquisition of Citizenship includes information on 42 European states and 35 states in the Americas and the Caribbean for the period 2013–2016. Koopmans et al. (2012) have built the Index of Citizenship Rights for Immigrants (ICRI), which consists of two sub-indices measuring the restrictiveness of nationality acquisition (or individual equality) and cultural rights attribution (or cultural difference) respectively. The dataset includes ten Western European countries and four time periods (1980, 1990, 2002, 2008). Recently, this dataset has been expanded to include 29 countries from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, Oceania, and the Americas (see Koopmans and Michalowski 2017).

In the field of migration policies the Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG) project has created a policy database that covers policy changes in 45 countries for the time period 1946–2013 (De Haas et al. 2015). The various measures provide information on the policy area and migrant group targeted, as well as the change in restrictiveness they introduce in the existing legal system. The Immigration Policies in Comparison (IMPIC) database covers regulations in 33 OECD countries for the time period 1980–2010 and for four sub-fields: labor migration, family reunification, asylum and refugees, and co-ethnics (Helbling et al. 2017). Moreover, it is possible to distinguish regulations from control mechanisms and external and internal regulations as well as to differentiate between conditions, eligibility criteria, security of status, and migrant rights. Unlike the DEMIG Policy Database the IMPIC project provides information on the absolute levels of policy restrictiveness, which allows researchers to conduct not only within but also between country comparisons.

The new datasets allow to systematically investigate causes and effects of these policies and to ask more general political science questions: What are the main factors explaining variation across time and countries? Do right-wing parties have an effect on the restrictiveness of policies? What are the effects of policies? Are nation-states able to control migration flows? Do policies have an effect of how citizens think about immigrants? These questions show that a new research agenda has emerged which is at the heart of comparative political science, looking at policy effectiveness and political factors driving policy change. The new indices will connect the field of immigration and citizenship studies to other areas of comparative politics where large databases measuring for example party positions, ethnic conflicts or patterns of democracy exist.

Moving beyond descriptive comparisons and conceptual discussions, the aim of this workshop is to focus on three related sets of descriptive and explanatory research questions:
- What kind of policy patterns and typologies do we observe among different national regulations?
- How can we explain differences between countries? What are the determinants of more restrictive/liberal policies as well as changes over time?
- What are the consequences of restrictive/liberal policies? Can we observe effects on micro-level outcomes such as immigrant naturalization, migration patterns and integration outcomes?

Citizenship and migration policies are traditionally characterized by national particularities, reflecting idiosyncratic conceptions of belonging and the absence of formal multilateral governance. As a result, comparative work in this field has assumed (and mostly still does) independence between units of analysis, modeling national variation as a function of domestic prerequisites, despite significant efforts of regional coordination, as in the EU, as well as states being embedded in an increasingly interconnected world. Yet, while recurrent critiques on the analytical usefulness and empirical validity of ‘national models’ of membership (Duyvendak and Scholten 2011; Joppke 2007) signal a need to go beyond stereotypical accounts of cross-national variation, national path dependencies remain a frequent point of departure for migration and citizenship scholars.

Notwithstanding this predominant historical institutionalist reflex in the literature, and following domains such as social and economic governance and democratization (Gleditsch and Ward 2006), citizenship and migration scholars have also observed that in fields such as refugee policies, immigrant integration, dual citizenship policies and diaspora enfranchisement processes of regional and, recently, global processes of international diffusion take place (Turcu and Urbatsch 2014). These are most visible in trends that take place, for example in Europe with regard to the rise of civic integration policies (Goodman 2014), or more globally with regard to the acceptance of expatriate dual citizenship policies (Vink et al 2016). While migration diversifies (Czaika and De Haas 2014), policies converge.

Having understood what kind of policy patterns exist and how they are related to each other we also want to know more precisely how we can explain why some policies are more restrictive/liberal than others. So far, questions of causes and effects of citizenship and even more so of migration policies have hardly been asked. A limited number of studies have aimed at explaining the variation of policies across countries and time, the effects of integration and citizenship policies on migrant integration, and the effects of immigration policies on immigration rates (Helbling 2016: 34-37). In both the citizenship and migration fields there are two studies that investigate why certain countries adopt more restrictive regulations than others. Both Howard (2009) and Koopmans et al. (2012) look at short and long term factors to explain levels of citizenship rights or the changes in these rights. While Howard (2009) shows that countries that had a long colonial history and/or democratized early developed a civic national identity tied to liberal values Koopmans et al. (2012) reveal path dependency effects and show that the policies at the end of the 2000s are best explained by the situation in 1980. Both also show that pressure from the far right plays an important role. For the immigration policy field, Timmer and Williams (1998) find that income distribution and economic threat perception lead to more restrictive policies. In the study by Givens and Luedtke (2005) it appears that political parties have an effect on integration measures, but not on control mechanisms that regulate the inflow of new immigrants. Moreover, issue salience as measured by media coverage leads to more restrictive policies.

Regarding the effects of citizenship policies the findings to date are rather mixed. Fleischmann and Dronkers (2010) show that the risks of unemployment among immigrants are not affected by integration policies. In the study by Ramos et al. (2013) it appears that immigrant-native wage gaps are smaller in countries with more generous policies. Dinesen and Hooghe (2010) observe that inclusionary integration policies do not lead to higher trust levels among immigrants. Helbling et al. (2016) show that the lowest political and social engagement gaps between natives and immigrants exist in countries with the most comprehensive and immigrant-friendly integration policies. Goodman and Wright (2015) more specifically look at the effects of mandatory integration policies and find little evidence that these requirements matter for socio-economic integration. However, like Helbling et al. (2016) they show that political integration is influenced by civic integration measures.

While many studies did not find any effects or only found small effects of integration policies, others argue that these measures promote exclusion rather than integration (for an overview of the effect of multicultural policies see Koopmans, 2013). Koopmans (2010) comes to the conclusion that migrants integrate better in states with more assimilationist policies. He argues that immigrants are forced to leave their ethnic groups and to “acquire the linguistic and cultural skills that are necessary to earn a living” in the absence of a social safety net (Koopmans 2010: 21).

What about the effects of migration policies? Scholars are still debating to what extent more restrictive/liberal regulations lead to lower/higher migration rates (Castles 2004; Sassen 1996). Empirical research however shows that there are policy effects. Mayda (2004) shows that positive migration pull factors become more important in countries with less restrictive policies. Brücker and Schröder (2011) find that more skill-selective policies lead to higher admittance rates. Ortega and Peri (2013) come to the conclusion that immigration flows are reduced in countries with more restrictive policies. Massey et al. (2016), however, have recently argued that border enforcement on the US southern border has transformed a circular flow of unauthorized migrants into a large permanent settlement of families. The study by Fitzgerald et al. (2014) shows that generous migration policies (and also generous citizenship regimes) lead to larger dyadic migration inflows. Hatton (2004) finds that policies do indeed have an impact on asylum flows but a smaller one than economic factors.

Paper List

Citizens but not Equals: Comparing Citizenship Hierarchies View Paper Details
Dynamic Partisan Effects in Migration Policy View Paper Details
From Immigration Control to Welfare Controls: The Influence of Right-Wing Populism upon the Adoption of Welfare Chauvinist Measures View Paper Details
Global Citizenship Configurations: How Political Regime Shapes Membership Rules around the World View Paper Details
Intention to become a Citizen: Do Subnational Integration Policies have an Influence? Empirical Evidence from Swiss Cantons View Paper Details
Migration Policy Indexes: A Mapping Exercise View Paper Details
Multiple Citizenship: Rhetoric and Regime Change in 5 CEE EU Member States View Paper Details
One Wave of Reforms, Many Outputs: The Diffusion of European Asylum Policies beyond Europe View Paper Details
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Restricting Immigration to Foster Migrant Integration? A Comparative Study View Paper Details
The Common European Asylum System at Stake: How and Why to Advocate for Responsibility-Sharing Mechanism View Paper Details
The Determinants of Migration Policy Change View Paper Details
Tightening Citizenship Policies to Confront Migrants View Paper Details
Were the employers right? The effects of the 2008 Swedish labour migration reform View Paper Details
Who Liberalizes Highly-Skilled Migration Policy and When? View Paper Details
Why bother with a long-distance relationship? Explaining models of emigrant policies in Latin American and the Caribbean View Paper Details
Why institutions matter no less than liberal policies: Proposing a two-dimensional typology of asylum systems View Paper Details
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"Politics determines the process of "who gets what, when, and how"" - Harold Lasswell

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