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Does Immigration Into Their Neighborhoods Incline Voters Toward the Extreme Right? The Case of the Freedom Party of Austria

  • Halla, Martin
  • Wagner, Alexander F
  • Zweimüller, Josef

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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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9102.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9102
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  1. 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.
  2. Tommaso Frattini, 2012. "Immigrazione," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 3, pages 363-407, July-Sept.
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  5. Borjas, George J., 2013. "The analytics of the wage effect of immigration," Scholarly Articles 11744469, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  6. Jens Hainmueller & Michael J. Hiscox, 2005. "Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe," Others 0505013, EconWPA.
  7. Dahlberg, Matz & Edmark, Karin & Lundqvist, Heléne, 2011. "Ethnic Diversity and Preferences for Redistribution," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2011:1, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  8. repec:dgr:uvatin:20040134 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-29, October.
  10. Facchini, Giovanni & Steinhardt, Max, 2011. "What Drives U.S. Immigration Policy? Evidence from Congressional Roll Call Votes," IZA Discussion Papers 5561, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. 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.
  12. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Richard Sinnott, 2004. "The Determinants of Individual Attitudes Towards Immigration," Trinity Economics Papers 20042, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. 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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