The Labor Market Performance of Naturalized Immigrants in Switzerland—New Findings from the Swiss Labor Force Survey

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to obtain new empirical insights into the integration of naturalized immigrants in Switzerland. In particular, we focus on a comparison of first-generation immigrants with and without Swiss citizenship. The analysis on the basis of the 2008 wave of the Swiss Labor Force Survey is motivated by findings in the literature highlighting the role of the acquisition of citizenship in the integration process. In line with those findings, our results demonstrate that naturalized first-generation immigrants tend to have higher wages than non-naturalized immigrants. An applied Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition technique demonstrates that this result is strongly connected to the higher human capital endowments of immigrants who have attained Swiss citizenship. The findings are in line with other case studies stating that immigrants positively select into citizenship.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Until the end of the 1970s, the Swiss law discriminated against women and their children living in bi-national marriages. A reform in 1978 ended the unequal treatment and created a new standard, according to which children of women married to foreigners automatically receive Swiss citizenship.

  2. 2.

    The expulsion initiative of the SVP demands that every criminal foreigner in Switzerland is deported automatically. This includes crimes of violence like murder, rape, sexual offenses, robbery as well as drug dealing and the abuse of social benefits.

  3. 3.

    We thank Urs Fischli and Markus Peek from the Swiss Federal Office for Migration for helping to clarify the actual legal situation in Switzerland.

  4. 4.

    Experience = Age − Years of Schooling − 6.

  5. 5.

    The rationale for including controls for enterprise size and region is that these might contribute to the explanation of the wage gap between naturalized and non-naturalized immigrants. We know for example that naturalization requirements differ across regions (please see the section “Citizenship Acquisition in Switzerland”). Due to this fact, naturalized immigrants might be concentrated in particular regions. If these regions have higher/lower wage levels than regions with few naturalized immigrants part of the wage differences between naturalized and non-naturalized immigrants could be explained by regional location. The same holds true for enterprise size if naturalized immigrants are more likely to work in large companies.

  6. 6.

    All three languages are official languages in Switzerland.

  7. 7.

    We excluded war refugees from our sample.

  8. 8.

    We decided in favor of a decomposition in which the nondiscriminatory coefficient is derived from a pooled regression, because discrimination is characterized by undervaluation of one group, and overvaluation of the other (Cotton 1988). For a comprehensive discussion of different forms of Oaxaca–Blinder decompositions see Elder et al. (2010).

  9. 9.

    The corresponding regression results are in the appendix.

  10. 10.

    Furthermore, the shares of unemployed individuals among naturalized and non-naturalized immigrants are comparable and relatively low (5.5% and 5.3%).

  11. 11.

    Exp (0.0958) − 1.

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Acknowledgments

Very useful comments were provided by Urs Fischli, Mario Gattiker, Markus Peek, Kurt Rohner, and Thomas Straubhaar. The research assistance of Sibille Duss is gratefully acknowledged. We would especially like to thank the editors and two anonymous referees for suggestions that substantially improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Max Friedrich Steinhardt.

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This paper is produced as part of the project “Temporary Migration, Integration and the role of Policies” (TEMPO) funded by the NORFACE Research Programme: “Migration in Europe—Social, Economic, Cultural and Policy Dynamics”.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 6 Wage regression
Table 7 Wage regression, pooled model

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Steinhardt, M.F., Wedemeier, J. The Labor Market Performance of Naturalized Immigrants in Switzerland—New Findings from the Swiss Labor Force Survey. Int. Migration & Integration 13, 223–242 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-011-0213-5

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Keywords

  • Citizenship
  • Naturalization
  • Socioeconomic integration

JEL Codes

  • F22
  • J61
  • J68