The impact of cultural proximity on naturalization: results from a cross-national study

Kirk A. Scott, Lund University
Jan M. Saarela, University of Helsinki and Åbo Akademi University

Using a unique longitudinal database constructed through the merging of administrative records from Sweden and Finland, we study how mother tongue affects the naturalization risk within a given nationality. We compare Swedish-speaking and Finnish-speaking immigrants from Finland, who arrived in Sweden in 1988-2004, with respect to the likelihood of becoming a Swedish citizen. Also, we contrast with estimates for the risk of return migration, and with people who come from the other Nordic countries. We find that Swedish-speaking Finns have an approximately 30 per cent higher standardised risk of naturalization than Finnish-speaking Finns, and a 2.5 times higher standardised risk as compared to people from the other Nordic countries. Since the benefits of naturalization are modest and similar for all Nordic immigrants in Sweden, any difference in the rate can be assumed reflecting the degree to which the groups broadly differ in self-identification with respect to the Swedish society.

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Presented in Session 114: Terms of belonging: immigrant integration