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Immigration and voting for the extreme right

  • Martin Halla
  • Alexander F. Wagner
  • Josef Zweimüller

Extreme-right-wing (ERW) parties are on the rise in many countries. Moreover, there is an alarmingly high cross-country correlation between the election success of ERW parties and immigration. Motivated by this evidence, we explore one potentially important channel through which immigration may drive support for ERW parties: the presence of immigrants in the voters' neighborhoods. We study the case of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). Under the leadership of Jörg Haider, this party increased its share of votes from less than 5 percent in the early 1980s to 27 percent by the year 1999. We exploit specific features of the history of immigration into Austria to identify a causal effect of immigration on ERW voting results. We argue that the sudden, large inflow of immigrant workers in the 1960s generated immigrant settlement patterns that provide a plausible source of exogenous variation in the more recent spatial distribution of immigrants. We find that the percentage immigrants in a community is an important causal factor behind support for the extreme right, explaining roughly a quarter of the cross-community variance in votes for the FPÖ. The effect varies across immigrants (e.g., based on their skill levels) as well as across communities (e.g., based on the degree of skill overlap between immigrants and natives), supporting the idea that voters worry about labor market competition. We find more limited indications that compositional amenities play a role for ERW votes.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 083.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision: Oct 2013
Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:083
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  1. Hainmueller, Jens & Hiscox, Michael J., 2007. "Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(02), pages 399-442, April.
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  6. Alan de Bromhead & Barry Eichengreen & Kevin H.O’Rourke, 2012. "Right Wing Political Extremism in the Great Depression," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _095, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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  8. Aslund, Olof, 2005. "Now and forever? Initial and subsequent location choices of immigrants," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 141-165, March.
  9. Borjas, George J., 2013. "The analytics of the wage effect of immigration," Scholarly Articles 11744469, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  10. Facchini, Giovanni & Steinhardt, Max, 2011. "What Drives U.S. Immigration Policy? Evidence from Congressional Roll Call Votes," IZA Discussion Papers 5561, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Richard Sinnott, 2004. "The Determinants of Individual Attitudes Towards Immigration," Trinity Economics Papers 20042, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
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  13. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-29, October.
  14. repec:dgr:uvatin:20040134 is not listed on IDEAS
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