Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 34
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Barceló, Joan 2016. Attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy in Asia and the Pacific: a quantitative assessment of current theoretical models beyond western countries. Asian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 24, Issue. 1, p. 87.

    Bessudnov, Alexey 2016. Ethnic Hierarchy and Public Attitudes towards Immigrants in Russia. European Sociological Review, Vol. 32, Issue. 5, p. 567.

    Conant, Lisa 2016. Who Files Suit? Legal Mobilization and Torture Violations in Europe. Law & Policy,

    Czymara, Christian S. and Schmidt-Catran, Alexander W. 2016. Wer ist in Deutschland willkommen?. KZfSS Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, Vol. 68, Issue. 2, p. 193.

    Eger, Maureen A. and Bohman, Andrea 2016. The political consequences of contemporary immigration. Sociology Compass, Vol. 10, Issue. 10, p. 877.

    Green, Eva G. T. Sarrasin, Oriane Baur, Robert and Fasel, Nicole 2016. From Stigmatized Immigrants to Radical Right Voting: A Multilevel Study on the Role of Threat and Contact. Political Psychology, Vol. 37, Issue. 4, p. 465.

    Hellwig, Timothy and Sinno, Abdulkader 2016. Different groups, different threats: public attitudes towards immigrants‡. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, p. 1.

    Hidalgo, Javier 2016. The case for the international governance of immigration. International Theory, Vol. 8, Issue. 01, p. 140.

    Manatschal, Anita and Bernauer, Julian 2016. Consenting to Exclude? Empirical Patterns of Democracy and Immigrant Integration Policy. West European Politics, Vol. 39, Issue. 2, p. 183.

    Miller, David 2016. Majorities and Minarets: Religious Freedom and Public Space. British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 46, Issue. 02, p. 437.

    Schlenker, Andrea 2016. Divided loyalty? Identification and political participation of dual citizens in Switzerland. European Political Science Review, Vol. 8, Issue. 04, p. 517.

    SCHLENKER, ANDREA 2016. Transnational status and cosmopolitanism: are dual citizens and foreign residents cosmopolitan vanguards?. Global Networks,

    Schulz, Benjamin and Leszczensky, Lars 2016. Native Friends and Host Country Identification among Adolescent Immigrants in Germany: The Role of Ethnic Boundaries. International Migration Review, Vol. 50, Issue. 1, p. 163.

    Sørensen, Rune Jørgen 2016. After the immigration shock: The causal effect of immigration on electoral preferences. Electoral Studies, Vol. 44, p. 1.

    Steen, Anton 2016. Deciding Refugee Settlement in Norwegian Cities: Local Administration or Party Politics?. Journal of Refugee Studies, p. few032.

    Wright, Matthew Levy, Morris and Citrin, Jack 2016. Public Attitudes Toward Immigration Policy Across the Legal/Illegal Divide: The Role of Categorical and Attribute-Based Decision-Making. Political Behavior, Vol. 38, Issue. 1, p. 229.

    Bochsler, Daniel and Hug, Simon 2015. How minorities fare under referendums: A cross-national study. Electoral Studies, Vol. 38, p. 206.

    Budziak, Jeffrey and Lempert, Daniel 2015. Assessing Threats to Inference with Simultaneous Sensitivity Analysis: The Case of US Supreme Court Oral Arguments. Political Science Research and Methods, p. 1.

    Hainmueller, Jens and Hopkins, Daniel J. 2015. The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes toward Immigrants. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 59, Issue. 3, p. 529.

    Hainmueller, Jens Hangartner, Dominik and Pietrantuono, Giuseppe 2015. Naturalization fosters the long-term political integration of immigrants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 112, Issue. 41, p. 12651.


Who Gets a Swiss Passport? A Natural Experiment in Immigrant Discrimination

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 07 February 2013

We study discrimination against immigrants using microlevel data from Switzerland, where, until recently, some municipalities used referendums to decide on the citizenship applications of foreign residents. We show that naturalization decisions vary dramatically with immigrants’ attributes, which we collect from official applicant descriptions that voters received before each referendum. Country of origin determines naturalization success more than any other applicant characteristic, including language skills, integration status, and economic credentials. The average proportion of “no” votes is about 40% higher for applicants from (the former) Yugoslavia and Turkey compared to observably similar applicants from richer northern and western European countries. Statistical and taste-based discrimination contribute to varying naturalization success; the rewards for economic credentials are higher for applicants from disadvantaged origins, and origin-based discrimination is much stronger in more xenophobic municipalities. Moreover, discrimination against specific immigrant groups responds dynamically to changes in the groups’ relative size.

Corresponding author
Jens Hainmueller is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 (
Dominik Hangartner is Lecturer, Department of Methodology, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, and Institute of Political Science, Affolternstrasse 56, 8050 Zurich (
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

C. L. Adida 2011. “Too Close for Comfort? Immigrant Exclusion in Africa.” Comparative Political Studies 44 (10): 1370–96.

C. L. Adida , D. D. Laitin, and M. A. Valfort. 2010. “Identifying Barriers to Muslim Integration in France.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (52): 223–84.

J. G. Altonji , and R. M. Blank. 1999. “Race and Gender in the Labor Market.” Handbook of Labor Economics 3: 3143–259, New York: Elsevier.

G. S. Becker 1971. The Economics of Discrimination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

R. Bellamy 2008. Citizenship: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

A. J. Berinsky 1999. “The Two Faces of Public Opinion.” American Journal of Political Science 43 (4): 1209–30.

M. Bertrand , and S. Mullainathan. 2001. “Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data.” American Economic Review 91 (2): 6772.

M. Bertrand , and S. Mullainathan. 2004. “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.” American Economic Review 94 (4): 9911013.

H. Blumer 1958. “Race Prejudice as a Sense of Group Position.” The Pacific Sociological Review 1 (1): 37.

T. Brader , N. A. Valentino, and E. Suhay. 2008. “What Triggers Public Opposition to Immigration? Anxiety, Group Cues, and Immigration Threat.” American Journal of Political Science 52 (4): 959–78.

A. M. Ceobanu , and X. Escandell. 2010. “Comparative Analyses of Public Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Immigration Using Multinational Survey Data: A Review of Theories and Research.” Annual Review of Sociology 36: 309–28.

R. M. Dancygier 2010. Immigration and Conflict in Europe. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

T. A. DiPrete , and M. Gangl. 2004. “Assessing Bias in the Estimation of Causal Effects: Rosenbaum Bounds on Matching Estimators and Instrumental Variables Estimation with Imperfect Instruments.” Sociological Methodology 34 (1): 271310.

J. F. Dovidio , K. Kawakami, C. Johnson, B. Johnson, and A. Howard. 1997. “On the Nature of Prejudice: Automatic and Controlled Processes.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 33: 510–40.

Christian Dustmann , and Ian P. Preston. 2007. “Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration.” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy 7 (1): Article 62.

G. P. Freeman 2004. “Immigrant Incorporation in Western Democracies.” International Migration Review 38 (3): 945–69.

B. S. Frey , and L. Goette. 1998. “Does the Popular Vote Destroy Civil Rights?American Journal of Political Science 42 (4): 1343–8.

B. S. Gamble 1997. “Putting Civil Rights to a Popular Vote.” American Journal of Political Science 41 (1): 245–69.

T. E. Givens 2007. “Immigrant Integration in Europe: Empirical Research.” Annual Review of Political Science 10 (1): 67.

Jens Hainmueller , and Michael J. Hiscox. 2007. “Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe.” International Organization 61 (2): 399442.

Z. L. Hajnal , E. R. Gerber, and H. Louch. 2002. “Minorities and Direct Legislation: Evidence from California Ballot Proposition Elections.” Journal of Politics 64 (1): 154–77.

M. Helbling 2008. Practising Citizenship and Heterogeneous Nationhood: Naturalisations in Swiss Municipalities. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

M. M. Howard 2009. The Politics of Citizenship in Europe. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

R. Jowell , and P. Prescott-Clarke. 1970. “Racial Discrimination and White-Collar Workers in Britain.” Race & Class 11 (4): 397.

D. R. Kinder , and D. O. Sears. 1981. “Prejudice and Politics: Symbolic Racism Versus Racial Threats to the Good Life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 40 (3): 414–31.

J. H. Kuklinski , M. D. Cobb, and M. Gilens. 1997. “Racial Attitudes and the New South.” The Journal of Politics 59 (02): 323–49.

J. A. List 2004. “The Nature and Extent of Discrimination in the Marketplace: Evidence from the Field.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 119 (1): 4989.

E. Maskin , and J. Tirole. 2004. “The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government.” The American Economic Review 94 (4): 1034–54.

D. Pager , and H. Shepherd. 2008. “The Sociology of Discrimination: Racial Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Credit, and Consumer Markets.” Annual Review of Sociology 34: 181.

T. F. Pettigrew , and L. R. Tropp. 2006. “A Meta-Analytic Test of Intergroup Contact Theory.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 90 (5): 751.

L. Quillian 1995. “Prejudice as a Response to Perceived Group Threat: Population Composition and Anti-Immigrant and Racial Prejudice in Europe.” American Sociological Review 60 (4): 586611.

L. Quillian 2006. “New Approaches to Understanding Racial Prejudice and Discrimination.” Sociology 32 (1): 299.

Paul R. Rosenbaum 2002. Observational Studies. 2nd ed.New York: Springer-Verlag.

K. Scheve , and M. J. Slaughter. 2001. “Labor Market Competition and Individual Preferences Over Immigration Policy.” Review of Economics and Statistics 83 (1): 133–45.

J. S. Sekhon 2011. “Multivariate and Propensity Score Matching Software with Automated Balance Optimization: The Matching Package for R.” Journal of Statistical Software 42 (7): 152.

M. Semyonov , R. Raijman, and A. Gorodzeisky. 2006. “The Rise of Anti-Foreigner Sentiment in European Societies, 1988–2000.” American Sociological Review 71 (3): 426.

P. M. Sniderman , L. Hagendoorn, and M. Prior. 2004. “Predisposing Factors and Situational Triggers: Exclusionary Reactions to Immigrant Minorities.” American Political Science Review 98 (01): 3549.

H. Tajfel 1982. “Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations.” Annual Review of Psychology 33 (1): 139.

S. E. Taylor , and S. T. Fiske. 1978. “Salience, Attention, and Attribution: Top of the Head Phenomena.” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 11: 249–88.

Adrian Vatter , and Deniz Danaci. 2010. “Mehrheitstyrannei durch Volksentscheide?Politische Vierteljahresschrift 51: 205–22.

P. Wanner , and É. Piguet. 2002. “The Practice of Naturalization in Switzerland: A Statistical Overview.” Population (English Edition) 57 (6): 917–26.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Hainmueller Supplementary Material

 Unknown (4.2 MB)
4.2 MB