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The effect of the 2004 referendum on birth tourism: evidence from a Dublin hospital

Did the 2004 Citizenship referendum affect birth tourism in Ireland? 

Evidence from one maternity hospital

Kevin Denny, Cormac Ó Gráda

School of Economics, University College Dublin

In 2004, after a heated campaign, Ireland voted on a referendum to restrict access to Irish citizenship. The referendum passed by a large majority and the 27th Amendment to the Constitution was passed into law. A motivation for the change was the widespread belief that many non-EU people were taking advantage of our citizenship laws, specifically the right of children born here to Irish citizenship, the principle of jus soli.  Much of the popular discourse claimed that significant numbers of non-EU women were presenting late at maternity hospitals. Here we examine, using a difference-in-difference strategy applied to data from one Dublin hospital, whether there was any validity to these claims. We find clear evidence that birth tourism did indeed fall after the passing of the referendum although the magnitude of the effect is somewhat uncertain. 

 

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