Compensatory citizenship: dual nationality as a strategy of global upward mobility

Yossi Harpaz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The literature on dual citizenship has traditionally focused on immigrants in Western Europe and North America. This emphasis has led authors to overlook the context of global inequality and the way it shapes the meaning and uses of a second citizenship. This paper offers a new approach that puts the analytical focus on global inequality in the value of citizenship. First, I construct a composite index of citizenship value and use it to outline the structure of the global citizenship hierarchy. Then, I analyse an original dataset to evaluate the prevalence of dual citizenship in 13 countries. The analysis demonstrates that individuals’ reactions to the possibility of obtaining a second citizenship are shaped by their position in the global citizenship hierarchy. Citizens of Western countries have no practical incentive to obtain a second citizenship and exhibit low demand for it. In Latin American and Eastern European countries, in contrast, demand for a second citizenship is high. Millions draw on their ancestry or ethnic identity to claim citizenship from Western or EU countries. The second, higher-tier nationality is not necessarily used to emigrate. Instead, it often operates as ‘compensatory citizenship’ that makes up for limitations in dual citizens’ primary resident citizenship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-916
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - 26 Apr 2019


FundersFunder number
Princeton University


    • Citizenship
    • globalisation
    • immigration
    • inequality
    • transnationalism


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