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Immigration and voting for the extreme right

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  • Martin Halla
  • Alexander F. Wagner
  • Josef Zweimüller

Abstract

Extreme-right-wing (ERW) parties are on the rise in many countries. Moreover, there is an alarmingly high cross-country correlation between the election success of ERW parties and immigration. Motivated by this evidence, we explore one potentially important channel through which immigration may drive support for ERW parties: the presence of immigrants in the voters' neighborhoods. We study the case of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). Under the leadership of Jörg Haider, this party increased its share of votes from less than 5 percent in the early 1980s to 27 percent by the year 1999. We exploit specific features of the history of immigration into Austria to identify a causal effect of immigration on ERW voting results. We argue that the sudden, large inflow of immigrant workers in the 1960s generated immigrant settlement patterns that provide a plausible source of exogenous variation in the more recent spatial distribution of immigrants. We find that the percentage immigrants in a community is an important causal factor behind support for the extreme right, explaining roughly a quarter of the cross-community variance in votes for the FPÖ. The effect varies across immigrants (e.g., based on their skill levels) as well as across communities (e.g., based on the degree of skill overlap between immigrants and natives), supporting the idea that voters worry about labor market competition. We find more limited indications that compositional amenities play a role for ERW votes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 083.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision: Oct 2013
Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:083

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Keywords: Immigration; political economy; voting;

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  1. Facchini, Giovanni & Steinhardt, Max, 2011. "What Drives U.S. Immigration Policy? Evidence from Congressional Roll Call Votes," CEPR Discussion Papers 8299, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. de Bromhead, Alan & Eichengreen, Barry & O'Rourke, Kevin H., 2012. "Right Wing Political Extremism in the Great Depression," CEPR Discussion Papers 8876, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Dahlberg, Matz & Edmark, Karin & Lundqvist, Heléne, 2011. "Ethnic Diversity and Preferences for Redistribution," Working Paper Series 2011:1, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  4. Simonetta Longhi & Peter Nijkamp & Jacques Poot, 2005. "A Meta-Analytic Assessment of the Effect of Immigration on Wages," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 451-477, 07.
  5. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Richard Sinnott, 2004. "The Determinants of Individual Attitudes Towards Immigration," Trinity Economics Papers 20042, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  6. Hainmueller, Jens & Hiscox, Michael J., 2007. "Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(02), pages 399-442, April.
  7. Åslund, Olof, 2001. "Now and forever? Initial and subsequent location choices of immigrants," Working Paper Series 2001:11, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  8. Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2010. "Assessing Inherent Model Bias: An Application to Native Displacement in Response to Immigration," NBER Working Papers 16332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Tommaso Frattini, 2012. "Immigrazione," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 3, pages 363-407, July-Sept.
  10. George J. Borjas, 2009. "The Analytics of the Wage Effect of Immigration," NBER Working Papers 14796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2004. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects, and Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1056-1093, December.
  12. King, Gary & Rosen, Ori & Tanner, Martin & Wagner, Alexander F., 2008. "Ordinary Economic Voting Behavior in the Extraordinary Election of Adolf Hitler," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(04), pages 951-996, December.
  13. Krishnakumar, Jaya & Müller, Tobias, 2012. "The political economy of immigration in a direct democracy: The case of Switzerland," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 174-189.
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