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Voting Behavior of Naturalized Citizens: 1996-2010

Sarah Crissey, Thom File
Component ID: #ti973015859

In 2010, 35.8 million foreign-born adults lived in the United States, including 16.9 million naturalized citizens. Research documents that naturalized citizens are less likely to register and vote than native citizens. Since Bass and Casper’s (2001) baseline nationalest imates from the 1996 Current Population Survey (CPS), the number of naturalized citizens has doubled. Given population changes and the increasing political debate over immigration, we explore how nativity influenced voting behavior from 1996 to 2010. Using the Voting and Registration Supplement to the CPS, which surveys about 80,000 adults every other November,we address whether naturalized citizens continue to be less likely to register and vote, and whether the nativity status effect is consistent across time and in both presidential and congressional elections. Our regression results suggest that, net of social and demographic factors, naturalized citizens are less likely to register and vote than native citizens across all years. We find evidence that the magnitude of thenativity association has increased over the course of the fourteen-year period–particularly for presidential elections. Furthermore, we find tentative evidence thatna tivity may have a stronger effect on voting behavior in congressional versus presidential elections.


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