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Does immigration decrease far-right popularity? Evidence from Finnish municipalities

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  • Jakub Lonsky

    (University of Oxford)

Abstract

Across Europe, far-right parties have made significant electoral gains in recent years. Their anti-immigration stance is considered one of the main factors behind their success. Using data from Finland, this paper studies the effect of immigration on voting for the far-right Finns Party on a local level. Exploiting a convenient setup for a shift-share instrument, I find that a 1 percentage point increase in the share of foreign citizens in a municipality decreases the Finns Party’s vote share by 3.4 percentage points. Placebo tests using pre-period data confirm this effect is not driven by persistent trends at the municipality level. The far-right votes lost to immigration are captured by the two pro-immigration parties. Turning to potential mechanisms, immigration is found to increase voter turnout, potentially activating local pro-immigration voters. Moreover, the negative effect is only present in municipalities with high initial exposure to immigrants, consistent with the intergroup contact theory. Finally, I also provide some evidence for the welfare-state channel as a plausible mechanism behind the main result.

Suggested Citation

  • Jakub Lonsky, 2021. "Does immigration decrease far-right popularity? Evidence from Finnish municipalities," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(1), pages 97-139, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:34:y:2021:i:1:d:10.1007_s00148-020-00784-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-020-00784-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 23rd November 2020
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2020-11-23 12:00:14

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    1. Campo, Francesco & Giunti, Sara & Mendola, Mariapia, 2021. "The Refugee Crisis and Right-Wing Populism: Evidence from the Italian Dispersal Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 14084, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigration; Far-right; Political economy; Voting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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