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Immigration and Right-Wing Populism: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Mehic, Adrian

    (Department of Economics, Lund University)

Abstract

Between the 2014 and 2018 Swedish parliamentary elections, the vote share of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats increased significantly. To evaluate the possibility of a causal link between immigration and the right-wing populist vote, this paper uses data from a nationwide policy experiment, under which refugees are allocated randomly to every municipality in the country, creating exogenous variation in the number of refugees between municipalities. Overall, I find a positive and significant impact of immigration on the anti-immigration vote. In areas with strong anti-immigration sentiments during the 1990s refugee wave, the effect is magnified significantly. However, when considering immigration of a particular refugee group dominated by young men, the relationship is considerably weaker. I show that this is because immigration of young men has a balancing effect on the right-wing populist vote among immigration-friendly voter groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Mehic, Adrian, 2019. "Immigration and Right-Wing Populism: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Working Papers 2019:5, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2019_005
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration; right-wing populism; natural experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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