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“Migration policy backlash, identity and integration of second generation migrants in France”

Abstract :
Does a lack of national identity impact immigrants’ integration ? We exploit a symbolic change in the birthright citizenship rules in France as an exogenous shock on migrants’ identity formation. It required second-generation immigrants born to foreign parents in France to sign a declaration of willingness to become French to be naturalized. In a differences-in-difference setting, we first show that this symbolic policy led to a loss of national identity of those affected. Using this in an instrumental variable approach, we find that a reduction in identification with the host country led to a reduction in economic and cultural integration. In all, instead of promoting integration, such migration policies led to a backlash.