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Xenophobia and Distribution in France: A Politico-economic Analysis

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Abstract

Anti-immigrant feeling (xenophobia) among voters has been proposed as a key factor explaining why, in the 2002 French national election, Jean Le Pen’s National Front Party won second place. Here, we study the effect of anti-immigrant sentiments among voters on the equilibrium position of political parties on the economic issue, which we take to be the size of the public sector. We model political competition among three parties (Left, Right, and Extreme Right) on a two-dimensional policy space (public sector size, immigration issue) using the PUNE model. We calibrate the model to French data for the election years 1988 and 2002, and show that politics have changed significantly over this period, from being centered primarily on economic issues to being centered on non-economic issues such as the immigration and security/law and order. We estimate that in 2002, the effect of voter xenophobia was to reduce the voters’ choice of public-sector size between 7% and 51% of one standard deviation of the population’s distribution of public-sector size ideal points, from what it would have been, absent xenophobia.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1478.

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Length: 75 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Economics (2005), 86(2): 95-114
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1478

Note: CFP 1164.
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Keywords: Xenophobia; Racism; Distribution; Political equilibrium;

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  1. David Austen-Smith & Michael Wallerstein, 2003. "Redistribution in a Divided Society," Discussion Papers 1362, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Woojin Lee & John E. Roemer, 2004. "Racism and Redistribution in the United States: A Solution to the Problem of American Exceptionalism," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1462, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't The US Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1933, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Stichnoth, Holger, 2010. "Does immigration weaken natives' support for the welfare state? Evidence from Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 10-008, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  2. Holger Stichnoth, 2012. "Does immigration weaken natives’ support for the unemployed? Evidence from Germany," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(3), pages 631-654, June.
  3. Anesi, Vincent & De Donder, Philippe, 2007. "Party Formation and Racism," CEPR Discussion Papers 6281, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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