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The impact of citizenship on intermarriages. Quasi-experimental evidence from two European Union Eastern Enlargements
According to the assimilation theory, immigrants’ acquisition of the citizenship of the destination country should increase the number of intermarriages as a result of immigrants' enhanced integration. Status exchange theory, instead, would predict a negative impact of citizenship acquisition, as the latter eliminates one of the possible ‘rewards’ that immigrants obtain in marrying a member of the native population. This paper provides a causal assessment of the impact of immigrants' citizenship acquisition on intermarriages exploiting the 2004 and 2007 European Union Eastern Enlargements, following which citizens of new EU member countries became EU citizens. The study focuses on intermarriages between Italian men and foreign women and applies the Synthetic Control Method to data of the Italian Register of Marriages. Our findings support the status exchange theory and are explained by the particularly difficult socioeconomic integration of immigrant women in Italy. Results point to the existence of heterogeneous effects of EU enlargement across immigrant groups, being larger for the least socioeconomically integrated groups.