Anna Moltchanova (Reviewer)
In this provocative volume, Ayelet Shachar puts forward an account of birthright citizenship as analogous to inherited property, and proposes a birthright privilege levy on citizenship inheritance that citizens of affluent countries should contribute to alleviate global inequalities of wealth and opportunity.
By drawing an analogy with property inheritance, Shachar
questions a widespread intuition that citizenship assignment based on birth is unproblematic.
The recipients of political membership in prosperous and politically stable societies, she
notes, inherit a valuable bundle of rights, benefits, and opportunities.
Since the place of one's birth is a circumstance beyond one's control, birthright citizens of a well-off society have a duty to transfer some of their chance gains to those who were born in a society with greatly diminished life opportunities.
An important feature of Shachar's book is that, based on the analogy, she
justifies assistance to the world's poor as a legal obligation of the rich, and not as a duty of charity or a moral obligation.
In the first part of the book, Shachar
develops the analogy between birthright citizenship and inherited property, which allows her
to argue for extending legal qualifications found in the realms of property and inheritance law in order to impose restrictions on the unlimited transmission of membership.
Anna Moltchanova is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Carleton College.
has published on a number of issues in global justice, especially on national self-determination and group rights.