Paths to Citizenship: Using Data to Understand and Promote Naturalization

Thai V. Le, Manuel Pastor, Justin Scoggins, Dalia Gonzalez, Blanca Ramirez
Date of Publication: 
January, 2019

Immigrant integration advocates and practitioners have generally sought to boost naturalization rates. Knowing more about which characteristics are most strongly associated with naturalization can help identify which barriers need to be addressed. Paths to Citizenship explores the factors that influence naturalization rates among eligible-to-naturalize adults in the United States, including individual characteristics and contextual factors. The report finds that the main drivers of an eligible adult’s propensity to naturalize are related to (1) individual demographic characteristics, such as English language ability, educational attainment, income, and whether they are married to a U.S. citizen or have an undocumented family member in the same household; (2) country-of-origin characteristics, such as whether dual citizenship is allowed and whether they come from a refugee-sending country; and (3) characteristics of where eligible adults live in the U.S., such as whether they reside in a Democratic-leaning state and the concentration of immigrants in their sub-county area. Building on this analysis, the authors place eligible adults into three categories: low, medium, and high probability of naturalization. Each of these groups might require more or less effort (and different types of effort) to encourage naturalization, and this could be a guide to more efficiently targeting outreach.

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Le, T., Pastor, M.,  Scoggins, J., Gonzalez, D., & Ramirez, B. (2019). Paths to Citizenship: Using Data to Understand and Promote Naturalization. Los Angeles, CA: USC Dornsife Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. Retrieved from

Source Organization: 
University of Southern California