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Taxation with Representation: The Political Economy of Foreigners’ Voting Rights

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  • Gonnot, Jérôme

Abstract

This paper examines natives’ decision to grant political rights to foreign residents based on their contribution to a redistribution mechanism that finances a private and a public good. We propose a model where agents’ redistributive preferences are determined by their skill level and their cultural beliefs about public spending, which vary by skill and nationality. Contrary to a commonly held view in the political economy literature, we show that low-skill natives are willing to enfranchise relatively skilled foreigners as long as these foreigners have sufficiently liberal beliefs towards public spending. Moreover, we establish that the political rights that low-skill natives are prepared to grant to foreign residents is a nonmonotonic function of immigration’s skill level and cultural support for public expenditure. In particular, low-skill natives favor greater political integration for less-skilled or more liberal foreigners if and only if these foreigners’ average relative preferences for the private and the public good are sufficiently close to their own. We provide empirical support for some of the theoretical predictions of the model using an original municipality-level dataset of Swiss referenda about non-citizen voting rights. Our results indicate that municipalities where a higher share of natives received social transfers were more likely to support immigrant voting and that this effect was greater where foreigners were poorer and emigrated from less economically conservative countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Gonnot, Jérôme, 2020. "Taxation with Representation: The Political Economy of Foreigners’ Voting Rights," TSE Working Papers 20-1077, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:124108
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    Cited by:

    1. Benjamin Elsner & Jeff Concannon, 2020. "Immigration and Redistribution," Working Papers 202024, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    2. Gonnot, Jérôme, 2022. "Taxation with representation: Understanding natives’ attitudes to foreigners’ voting rights," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 71(C).
    3. Alois Stutzer & Michaela Slotwinski, 2021. "Power sharing at the local level: evidence on opting-in for non-citizen voting rights," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 1-30, March.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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