From immigrants to (non-)citizens: Political economy of naturalizations in Latvia
Latvia enjoys the dubious distinction of having the highest population share of ethnic minorities and foreign-born residents in the European Union. In addition there exists a peculiar Latvian “institution”, a category of resident known as “non-citizen”, originating from the Soviet era migration flows. This “non-citizen” status has a number of serious disadvantages relative to citizen status. It is, therefore, of interest why a significant number of “non-citizen” opt to keep this status, although they have the opportunity to obtain full citizenship, and why others choose to become citizen. Using data from a representative 2007 survey of 624 former and current non-citizens in a multinomial probit model reveals characteristics of those who want to remain non-citizen, and of those who have obtained citizen status, are in the process of obtaining it or plan to do so in the future. Proficiency level of the state language (Latvian) is the single most significant correlate of the willingness to obtain citizenship. Significant influence also accrues to age, gender, education, emigration intentions and municipality level factors – the unemployment rate and the share of non-citizens
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