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PhD Project

Walls and Passports

The Association Between Immigration Policy and Citizenship Policy

Do inclusive societies need closed borders? Political theorists have pondered this puzzle for decades. The conventional view holds that in liberal democracies immigration restrictions are legitimate, and some argue that they are necessary for inclusive citizenship. Some empirical analyses corroborate this claim. There appear to be certain trade-offs between the openness of borders and the inclusiveness of immigrant rights. Reformulating the underlying empirical puzzle in a general way leads to the following research question:

How are Immigration Regime Openness and Citizenship Regime Inclusiveness associated, and what explains variations in this association across space and  time?

This question is still underexplored. Combining quantitative and qualitative methods, my doctoral project attempts to fill this gap. The resulting insights will not only advance our understanding of immigration-related policy-making, but also inform a long-standing normative discourse from an empirical perspective.

Need a more accessible presentation? Watch this prize-winning video.

Beyond the PhD

Restricting Immigration to Foster Migrant Integration?

Are more restrictive immigration policies associated with higher levels of migrant integration? Based on the assumption that more stringent admission regimes will facilitate the integration of the immigrants admitted under these regimes, conventional wisdom holds that immigration restrictions indeed foster migrant integration. Yet, empirical analyses testing this hypothesis are rare. This project attempts to provide such a test. We investigate the relationship between both external and internal aspects of admission regimes with various immigrant integration outcomes, namely socio-economic, socio-cultural, and political aspects.

In collaboration with Marc Helbling and Stephan Simon from the WZB Social Science Center Berlin

How the EU Mitigates a Fundamental Democratic Deficit of European Nation-States

What had started as a student seminar paper at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland, together with my dear friend and colleague Andrea C. Blättler, in a seminar taught by our professor, mentor, and friend Joachim Blatter, has taken off as a small project of its own. It has literally traveled across the globe to several conferences, and it has unlocked some important doors. The heart of this project is the IMIX – the Immigrant Inclusion Index. Set up against the background of what can be labeled as an “overlapping consensus” in normative political theory to electorally include long-term immigrants, the IMIX is a tool that can be used to comparatively evaluate established and stable democracies regarding the electoral inclusion of these immigrants via access to citizenship and alien voting rights. We find that many European nation-states suffer from serious democratic deficits when it comes to immigrant electoral inclusion. The EU, which is the usual target of allegations of democratic deficits, in fact plays a positive role in alleviating this particular deficit, although in a limited way. By mandating member states to enfranchise non-national EU citizens in all member states on the local level, the EU pushes one of the currently most relevant frontiers of democracy in the right direction. 

The most important among a number of publications in this project, the article in the Journal of Common Market Studies has been awarded the 2017 JCMS Best Article Prize. We hope that this will help the broader mission of the IMIX, which is to inspire democracy measurement to also start tackling this frontier so that normative theory and empirical research can be better aligned.

In collaboration with Joachim Blatter from the University of Lucerne and Andrea C. Blättler from the Goethe University Frankfurt

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