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Electoral Systems and Immigration

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Abstract

Unexplored stylized facts on OECD countries suggest that plurality electoral systems are associated with higher openness to immigration. We propose an explanation based on a retrospective voting model where immigration hurts voters but benefits a rent-seeking policymaker who appropriates part of the income generated by immigrants.To be reappointed, the policymaker must distribute compensation. With respect to proportional systems, plurality systems make it possible to compensate only a few decisive districts and leave higher after-compensation rents, producing therefore higher immigration. In our model, non-decisive districts receive no compensation at all under both electoral systems, providing a rationale for widespread anti-immigration attitudes. Notably, our results also help to explain why governments often seem more pro-immigration than voters. Finally, our model suggests that proportional systems may incentivize the enfranchisement of immigrants with voting rights and that opposition to immigration is more territorially dispersed in plurality systems. Basic evidence supports both predictions.

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  • Giuseppe Russo & Francesco Salsano, 2017. "Electoral Systems and Immigration," CSEF Working Papers 473, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:473
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    Cited by:

    1. Russo, Giuseppe & Salsano, Francesco, 2019. "Electoral systems and immigration," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    2. Matteo Gamalerio & Massimo Morelli & Margherita Negri, 2021. "The Political Economy of Open Borders: Theory and Evidence on the role of Electoral Rules," BAFFI CAREFIN Working Papers 21157, BAFFI CAREFIN, Centre for Applied Research on International Markets Banking Finance and Regulation, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
    3. Matteo Gamalerio & Massimo Morelli & Margherita Negri, 2021. "The Political Economy of Open Borders: Theory and Evidence on the role of Electoral Rules," BAFFI CAREFIN Working Papers 21157, BAFFI CAREFIN, Centre for Applied Research on International Markets Banking Finance and Regulation, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    electoral systems; rent extraction; retrospective voting; immigration;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General

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