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The role of local voting rights for foreign citizens – a catalyst for integration?

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  • Engdahl, Mattias

    () (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy)

  • Lindgren, Karl-Oskar

    () (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy)

  • Rosenqvist, Olof

    () (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy)

Abstract

We study the short- and long-term impact of local enfranchisement of foreign citizens born outside the EU on political integration outcomes. Local voting rights for foreigners were introduced in the Swedish electoral system in 1976. This right to vote is conditional on having spent at least three years in Sweden prior to the election. Until 1998 Swedish elections at all levels were held every three years; since then they have been held every four years. The wait time before the first opportunity to vote thus differs substantially for immigrants immigrating just before this cutoff date versus just after. Our analysis shows that immigrants whose timing of arrival makes them eligible to vote after slightly more than three years in the country are not more likely to naturalize or vote in later elections compared to immigrants whose timing of arrival means they must wait six or seven years to vote. The results suggest that earlier opportunities for political participation do not improve subsequent political integration of immigrants as measured by naturalization and voting.

Suggested Citation

  • Engdahl, Mattias & Lindgren, Karl-Oskar & Rosenqvist, Olof, 2018. "The role of local voting rights for foreign citizens – a catalyst for integration?," Working Paper Series 2018:3, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2018_003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sebastian Butschek & Thomas Walter, 2014. "What active labour market programmes work for immigrants in Europe? A meta-analysis of the evaluation literature," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, December.
    2. Lindgren, Karl-Oskar & Oskarsson, Sven & Persson, Mikael, 2017. "Can increased education help reduce the political opportunity gap?," Working Paper Series 2017:12, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    3. Ulf Rinne, 2013. "The evaluation of immigration policies," Chapters, in: Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann (ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 28, pages 530-552, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Slotwinski, Michaela & Stutzer, Alois & Gorinas, Cédric, 2017. "Democratic Involvement and Immigrants' Compliance with the Law," IZA Discussion Papers 10550, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Dancygier, Rafaela M. & Lindgren, Karl-Oskar & Oskarsson, Sven & Vernby, Kã…Re, 2015. "Why Are Immigrants Underrepresented in Politics? Evidence from Sweden," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 703-724, November.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Local election; voting rights; noncitizens; integration; naturalization; turnout;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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