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Immigration and anti-immigrant sentiments: Evidence from the 2017 German parliamentary election

Author

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  • Kellermann, Kim Leonie
  • Winter, Simon

Abstract

We empirically examine the relationship between shares of foreigners in a district and the share of votes cast in that district for the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the major anti-immigrant party in the 2017 German parliamentary election. The classic theory on the political economy of migration supposes that immigration fosters opposing sentiments among the natives due to fiercer competition for jobs, housing and public goods. Notably, the vote distribution in the 2017 election suggests that AfD vote shares are higher in districts with fewer foreign inhabitants. We exploit administrative data on election results and district-specific features to study a potentially causal effect. As the share of foreigners in a district may be endogenous, we apply an IV approach, using the number of working permits as an instrument for the share of foreign residents. Our results corroborate the Contact Theory, which states that more intensive exposure to and contact with immigrants reduce the propensity for anti-immigrant voting. We find that a 10 % increase in the population share of foreigners is associated with a 2.6 % lower vote share for the AfD. By contrast, a strong increase in the number of asylum seekers positively adds to AfD support.

Suggested Citation

  • Kellermann, Kim Leonie & Winter, Simon, 2018. "Immigration and anti-immigrant sentiments: Evidence from the 2017 German parliamentary election," CIW Discussion Papers 5/2018, University of Münster, Center for Interdisciplinary Economics (CIW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ciwdps:52018
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christian Dustmann & Kristine Vasiljeva & Anna Piil Damm, 2019. "Refugee Migration and Electoral Outcomes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(5), pages 2035-2091.
    2. Altindag, Onur & Kaushal, Neeraj, 2017. "Do Refugees Impact Voting Behavior in the Host Country? Evidence from Syrian Refugee Inflows in Turkey," IZA Discussion Papers 10849, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Gerdes, Christer & Wadensjö, Eskil, 2008. "The Impact of Immigration on Election Outcomes in Danish Municipalities," IZA Discussion Papers 3586, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Andreas Steinmayr, 2016. "Exposure to Refugees and Voting for the Far-Right. (Unexpected) Results from Austria," WIFO Working Papers 514, WIFO.
    5. Bratti, Massimiliano & Deiana, Claudio & Havari, Enkelejda & Mazzarella, Gianluca & Meroni, Elena Claudia, 2017. "What Are You Voting For? Proximity to Refugee Reception Centres and Voting in the 2016 Italian Constitutional Referendum," IZA Discussion Papers 11060, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    migration; anti-immigrant parties; contact theory; ethnic competition; economic competition;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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