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Immigration, Cultural Distance and Natives' Attitudes Towards Immigrants: Evidence from Swiss Voting Results

Author

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  • Brunner, Beatrice

    (Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW))

  • Kuhn, Andreas

    (Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training)

Abstract

We combine community-level outcomes of 27 votes about immigration issues in Switzerland with census data to estimate the effect of immigration on natives' attitudes towards immigration. We apply an instrumental variable approach to take potentially endogenous locational choices into account, and we categorize immigrants into two groups according to the cultural values and beliefs of their source country to understand how the cultural distance between natives and immigrants affects this relationship. We find that the share of culturally different immigrants is a significant and sizable determinant of anti-immigration votes, while the presence of culturally similar immigrants does not affect natives' voting behavior at all in most specifications. The cultural distance between immigrant and native residents thus appears crucial in explaining the causal effect of immigration on natives' attitudes towards immigration, and we argue that the differential impact is mainly driven by natives' concerns about compositional amenities. We finally show that the elasticity of the share of right-wing votes in favor of the Swiss People's Party is much more elastic with respect to the share of culturally different immigrants than natives' attitudes themselves, suggesting that the party has disproportionally gained from changes in attitudes caused by immigrant inflows.

Suggested Citation

  • Brunner, Beatrice & Kuhn, Andreas, 2014. "Immigration, Cultural Distance and Natives' Attitudes Towards Immigrants: Evidence from Swiss Voting Results," IZA Discussion Papers 8409, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8409
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    4. Hangartner, Dominik & Sarvimäki, Matti & Spirig, Judith, 2021. "Managing Refugee Protection Crises: Policy Lessons from Economics and Political Science," IZA Discussion Papers 14821, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Edo, Anthony & Giesing, Yvonne & Öztunc, Jonathan & Poutvaara, Panu, 2019. "Immigration and electoral support for the far-left and the far-right," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 99-143.
    6. Max Viskanic, 2019. "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 2016-18 | Migrants, Refugees and the rise of Far Right Populism," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/54p3kn4dif9, Sciences Po.
    7. Max Viskanic, 2019. "Fear and loathing on the campaign trail 2016-18 : migrants, refugees and the rise of far right populism [Peur et haine dans la campagne électorale 2016-18 : migrants, réfugiés et la montée du popul," SciencePo Working papers tel-03369802, HAL.
    8. Anthony Edo & Lionel Ragot & Hillel Rapoport & Sulin Sardoschau & Andreas Steinmayr, 2018. "The Effects of Immigration in Developed Countries: Insights from Recent Economic Research," CEPII Policy Brief 2018-22, CEPII research center.
    9. Paul Vertier, 2018. "The Democratic Challenges of Electoral Representation and Populism: an Empirical Approach," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/7omfps2eu39, Sciences Po.
    10. Andreas Steinmayr, 2016. "Exposure to Refugees and Voting for the Far-Right. (Unexpected) Results from Austria," WIFO Working Papers 514, WIFO.
    11. Jakub Lonsky, 2018. "Does Immigration Decrease Far-Fight Popularity? Evidence from Finnish Municipalities," Working Paper 6471, Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh.
    12. Slotwinski, Michaela & Stutzer, Alois, 2015. "The Deterrent Effect of Voting Against Minarets: Identity Utility and Foreigners' Location Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 9497, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Max Viskanic, 2020. "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: Did Immigration Cause Brexit?," Working Papers hal-03471315, HAL.
    14. Max Viskanic, 2020. "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: Did Immigration Cause Brexit?," Sciences Po publications 100, Sciences Po.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    instrumental variable; endogenous residential choice; cultural distance; cultural values and beliefs; voting behavior; attitudes towards immigration; immigration; rightwing votes;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • 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
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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