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Ethnic Diversity and Preferences for Redistribution

  • Matz Dahlberg
  • Karin Edmark
  • Heléne Lundqvist

In recent decades, the immigration of workers and refugees to Europe has increased substantially, and the composition of the population in many countries has consequently become much more heterogeneous in terms of ethnic background. If people exhibit in-group bias in the sense of being more altruistic to one's own kind, such increased heterogeneity will lead to reduced support for redistribution among natives. This paper exploits a nationwide program placing refugees in municipalities throughout Sweden during the period 1985{94 to isolate exogenous variation in immigrant shares. We match data on refugee placement to panel survey data on inhabitants of the receiving municipalities to estimate the causal effects of increased immigrant shares on preferences for redistribution. The results show that a larger immigrant population leads to less support for redistribution in the form of preferred social benefit levels. This reduction in support is especially pronounced for respondents with high income and wealth. We also establish that OLS estimators that do not properly deal with endogeneity problems - as in earlier studies - are likely to yield positively biased (i.e., less negative) effects of ethnic heterogeneity on preferences for redistribution.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3325.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3325
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  1. Per-Anders Edin & Peter Fredriksson & Olof �slund, 2003. "Ethnic Enclaves And The Economic Success Of Immigrants - Evidence From A Natural Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 329-357, February.
  2. Woojin Lee & John Roemer & Karine van der Straeten, 2005. "Racism, xenophobia, and redistribution," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2005-15, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  3. Karin Edmark & Matz Dahlberg, 2004. "Is There a "Race-to-the-Bottom" in the Setting of Welfare Benefit Levels? Evidence from a Policy Intervention," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 473, Econometric Society.
  4. Christer Gerdes, 2011. "The Impact of Immigration on the Size of Government: Empirical Evidence from Danish Municipalities," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(1), pages 74-92, 03.
  5. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2001. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 500-528, June.
  6. Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William & Alesina, Alberto, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," Scholarly Articles 4551797, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Claudia Senik & Holger Stichnoth & Karine Van Der Straeten, 2008. "Immigration and natives' attitudes towards the welfare state: Evidence from the European Social Survey," PSE Working Papers halshs-00586256, HAL.
  8. repec:pse:psecon:2008-43 is not listed on IDEAS
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