The Determinants of Cross-National Variation in Migrant Accessibility to Rights

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: Booth 46
Oral Presentation
Ralph HOSOKI , Sociology, University of California, Irvine, IRVINE, CA
Nation-states vary largely in the degree to which the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights enjoyed by the native citizenry are conferred upon foreign nationals, and rarely do non-nationals fully enjoy equal rights unless they naturalize. There is considerable cross-national variation in accessibility to the legal institution of citizenship, but extant studies on the determinants of such variation are fragmented, revealing contradictory findings.  Comparative studies, though informative, are largely qualitative and geographically limited to Western liberal democracies, making it difficult to make generalizable claims about other parts of the world.  Furthermore, there has been limited theorization on the impact of international exogenous pressures on citizenship and nationality laws.  Using the 2001 Citizenship Laws of the World dataset to obtain data on the minimum residency length requirements for naturalization as a proxy measure for migrants’ accessibility to rights, this cross-national study utilizes OLS regression to compare the explanatory power of world culture variables against domestic economic, political, and demographic variables commonly used in studies on the determinants of citizenship laws.  Results show that international non-governmental organization (INGO) membership best predicts cross-national variance in the minimum residency length requirements for naturalization, thereby suggesting that extensive linkages with INGOs and the resulting diffusion of world cultural scripts on human rights into the domestic society and polity influence a state’s willingness to confer the ultimate means to legal membership and rights.