About our research

About MiLifeStatus

Migrant Life Course and Legal Status Transition (MiLifeStatus) is a five year research project (2016-2021) which studies the relation between migrant naturalisation and integration.

Obtaining a passport, and hence the citizenship of a host country, provides for migrants a secure residence status, rights, and participation opportunities. Besides, it encourages a sense of belonging. Yet a passport is no panacea; actually, little is known about its impact on migrant integration. Previous research in this field has produced mixed results, since the causal relation between (acquiring citizenship through) naturalisation and integration is not straightforward and has often been studied within one societal context only.

Naturalisation & integration
Over the next five years, the MiLifeStatus research team will disentangle the relationship between migrant naturalisation and integration in a longitudinal and comparative manner. The central - and innovative - idea of our research is to model migrants’ legal status transitions as life course events, which are in turn shaped by their origin, their family context, and societal structures and institutions. In other words: the value and meaning of citizenship is different for each individual migrant, depending on many contextual factors. For example, obtaining a Dutch passport carries different consequences for a young migrant that has been living in the Netherlands for five years, than it does for an elderly migrant that has been living here for thirty years. Likewise, a young woman from Afghanistan applying for Dutch citizenship has more to gain than a young woman from Germany.

By investigating the relevance of citizenship within the individual life course of an immigrant, MiLifeStatus analyses why, how, and for whom legal status transitions matter and, especially, how variation in policies between countries impacts on this relation. The research will focus on integration in socioeconomic domains, such as labor market performance, as well as living conditions, health status, out-migration, and education among first and second-generation immigrants.


Naturalisation: the consequences of stricter policies


Consult an explanatory article on the research project.

See also an interview with MiLifeStatus project leader Maarten Vink in Maastricht University magazine on education and research.

Research design
Our research focuses on four European countries, but also adds a larger comparative perspective. Our quantitive analyses combine different types of data. In Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, we make use of administrative data drawn from central population registers. In Germany we utilise longitudinal panel survey data. Analysing how and under which conditions status transitions affect migrant life course trajectories allows us to better inform policy-makers on the outcomes of naturalisation policies. We also do a few larger comparative studies to investigate external validity of our findings and also to explore the politics of citizenship globally. Research results can be found under publications. 

European Research Council
MiLifeStatus is funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). The project is conducted within the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) at the European University Institute (EUI) and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) and the Maastricht Center for Citizenship, Migration and Development (MACIMIDE). 


MiLifeStatus has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 682626)

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