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Immigrants, Ethnic Identities and the Nation-State

  • Constant, Amelie F.


    (George Washington University, Temple University)

  • Zimmermann, Klaus F.


    (IZA and University of Bonn)

In the Western world, multiculturalism has become the way to view and form "nationhood," igniting the interest to understand and model identity. The complexity of identity formation, however, has been firm and ethnic and national identities have been deviating more and more. In this paper, we seek to investigate the nature, role and relationships between ethnic and national identities by using migrants as the natural innovators. The arrival of immigrants can amplify social challenges and both natives and immigrants can see their identities altering and evolving. Individuals in a country can be patriotic, nationalistic, indifferent, apathetic, or subvert and undermining. The openness of the people in the host country, their embracing of new cultures and their respect towards newcomers can play a major role in how immigrants react and how close they remain with the country of origin. The laws of the host country together with the ideals, the self-understanding and the foundation of the sovereign nation can also affect the identities of immigrants and natives at the individual level and at the nation-building level. We present empirical results concerning ethnic and national identities and we discuss the ramifications of the divergence between them. We review surveys and experimental contributions to the study of identity formation and its consequences for economic behavior. Before we conclude we debate the endogeneity issue of identity.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7020.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: A. F. Constant, K. F. Zimmermann (eds), International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, Edward Elgar 2013, Cheltenham, UK, and Northampton, USA, Chapter 14, 259-275
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7020
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  1. Constant, Amelie & Gataullina, Liliya & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 2008. "Naturalization Proclivities, Ethnicity and Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 6656, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Harttgen, Kenneth & Opfinger, Matthias, 2012. "In the Nation We Trust: National Identity as a Substitute for Religion," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-491, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  3. Paolo Masella, 2013. "National identity and ethnic diversity," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 437-454, April.
  4. Darity, William Jr. & Mason, Patrick L. & Stewart, James B., 2006. "The economics of identity: The origin and persistence of racial identity norms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 283-305, July.
  5. Constant, Amelie F. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2009. "Migration, Ethnicity and Economic Integration," IZA Discussion Papers 4620, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Constant, Amelie & Gataullina, Liliya & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 2006. "Ethnosizing Immigrants," CEPR Discussion Papers 5636, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  8. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
  9. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
  10. Georgiadis, Andreas & Manning, Alan, 2013. "One nation under a groove? Understanding national identity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 166-185.
  11. Constant, Amelie F., 2003. "Immigrant Adjustment in France and Impacts on the Natives," IZA Discussion Papers 866, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. repec:bla:ecpoli:v:26:y:2011:i:65:p:57-92 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance," Scholarly Articles 4553005, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher S. Ruebeck, 2003. "The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race," NBER Working Papers 9962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Sherry Xin Li, 2010. "Social Identities, Ethnic Diversity, and Tax Morale," Public Finance Review, , vol. 38(2), pages 146-177, March.
  16. Irma Clots‐Figueras & Paolo Masella, 2013. "Education, Language and Identity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages F332-F357, 08.
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