Variations in Naturalization Premiums by Country of Origin


This study uses the 2013–2017 American Community Survey to explore differences in the returns to obtaining US citizenship for immigrants from the four largest source countries relative to all other immigrants. We find that Chinese, Mexican, and Filipino immigrants face a wage penalty prior to naturalization, while Indian immigrants experience higher wages than other immigrants. Naturalization more than offsets the wage penalty for Chinese and Filipino immigrants and partially offsets the wage penalty for Mexican immigrants. However, naturalized Indian immigrants earn less than non-naturalized Indian immigrants. We find only limited evidence of a naturalization premium for immigrants from other countries.

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  1. 1.

    Third country nationals refer to countries outside of the EU that do not have bilateral labor agreements with Germany.

  2. 2.

    Estimates that include part-time workers, as well as for female workers, yield similar results. These results are available upon request.

  3. 3.

    For ease of exposition, we exclude these results from the tables below. In general, we find real earnings were higher for respondents in the 2015–2017 survey years, relative to 2013. Additionally, we find cohorts entering after 1980 earn 10–20% less than those entering prior to 1980. These results are consistent with prior findings by Borjas (1995). Our main findings are robust to inclusion/exclusion of survey-year and cohort fixed effects.

  4. 4.

    A fully interacted model, available upon request, indicates significant differences between the effects of several covariates across countries.

  5. 5.

    For ease of exposition, we withhold coefficient estimates for the other control variables from the table. These results are available upon request.


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Correspondence to Michael Coon.

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Chi, M., Coon, M. Variations in Naturalization Premiums by Country of Origin. Eastern Econ J 46, 102–125 (2020).

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  • Immigration
  • Naturalization
  • Visa Quotas

JEL Classification

  • J31
  • J38
  • J61