This article employs the methodology of public choice, or constitutional political economy, to the question of how citizenship should be defined in a constitution. All members of a community or an assembly representative of all members writes a constitution. Each participant in the constitution-drafting process is uncertain of his or her future identity under the constitution and thus chooses a constitution that maximizes the expected utility of all future citizens. The article describes the optimal conditions within this framework for: granting citizenship to those born and raised in the country; granting citizenship to those immigrating into the country; and withdrawing citizenship from those who emigrate from the country. The article also discusses why it might be desirable to require that people pass certain tests and take a loyalty oath to the constitution before being awarded the privilege of voting.
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DOI 10.2202/1565-3404.1045
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