The UK Citizenship Process: Integration or Marginalization?
For the most part, this debate has been conducted via analysis of policies and documents. In this paper I adopt an empirical strategy focusing on outcomes for the immigrants themselves. Using panel data from ‘Understanding Society’ (the UK household panel survey), I investigate interest in politics among those who are non-citizens at Wave 1, comparing those who became citizens by Wave 6 to those who remained non-citizens.
The analysis indicates that those who became citizens subsequently reported lower interest in politics, controlling for other determinants. The longitudinal nature of the analysis suggests that this decrease comes as a consequence of their naturalization, rather than indicating lower interest already prior to naturalization. This unexpected finding reinforces the concerns of critics of the ‘citizenship test’ regime: the policy appears to do more to alienate new citizens than it does to facilitate their integration in the political sphere.