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Does Immigration Decrease Far-Right Popularity? Evidence from Finnish Municipalities

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  • Lonsky, Jakub

Abstract

Across Europe, far-right parties have made significant electoral gains in recent years. Their anti-immigration stance is considered one of the main factors behind their success. Using data from Finland, this paper studies the effect of immigration on voting for the far-right Finns Party on a local level. Exploiting a convenient setup for a shift-share instrument, I find that one percentage point increase in the share of foreign citizens in municipality decreases Finns Party's vote share by 3.4 percentage points. Placebo tests using pre-period data confirm this effect is not driven by persistent trends at the municipality level. The far-right votes lost to immigration are captured by the two pro-immigration parties. Turning to potential mechanisms, immigration is found to increase voter turnout, potentially activating local pro-immigration voters. Moreover, the negative effect is only present in municipalities with high initial exposure to immigrants, consistent with the intergroup contact theory. Finally, I also provide some evidence for welfarestate channel as a plausible mechanism behind the main result.

Suggested Citation

  • Lonsky, Jakub, 2020. "Does Immigration Decrease Far-Right Popularity? Evidence from Finnish Municipalities," GLO Discussion Paper Series 540, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:540
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigration; far-right; political economy; voting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • 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
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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