Merizenship: the Emergence of a de facto Citizenship Based on Socioeconomic Status

The aim of this article is to study the relationship between national citizenship and socioeconomic status from a theoretical and legal point of view. The starting point for this project lies in two current and concurrent trends: increasing wealth inequalities (Piketty 2014) and the transformation and evolution of national citizenship (Benhabib 2011, Kochenov 2020). This paper argues that a de facto citizenship is developing in European Western societies: merizenship. Merizens are rich and or or highly-skilled people who benefit from rights and advantages inherent to citizenship or have an easy access to a “qualitative” citizenship (see the Quality of Nationality Index), regardless of their actual ties to the given country, the citizenship by investment being the par excellence example. The argument will be developed on the basis of examples from migration policies and citizenship laws as well as on politics and the granting of social advantages in the U.S. and Europe.