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The deterrent effect of an anti-minaret vote on foreigners’ location choices

Michaela Slotwinski and Alois Stutzer ()

Journal of Population Economics, 2019, vol. 32, issue 3, No 10, 1043-1095

Abstract: Abstract In a national ballot in 2009, Swiss citizens surprisingly approved an amendment to the Swiss constitution to ban the further construction of minarets. The ballot outcome manifested reservations and anti-immigrant attitudes in regions of Switzerland which had previously been hidden. We exploit this fact as a natural experiment to identify the causal effect of negative attitudes towards immigrants on foreigners’ location choices and thus indirectly on their utility. Based on a regression discontinuity design with unknown discontinuity points and administrative data on the population of foreigners, we find that the probability of their moving to a municipality which unexpectedly expressed stronger reservations decreases initially by about 40%. The effect is accompanied by a drop of housing prices in these municipalities and levels off over a period of about 5 months. Moreover, foreigners in high-skill occupations react relatively more strongly highlighting a tension when countries try to attract well-educated professionals from abroad.

Keywords: Attitudes; Foreigners; Location choice; Popular initiative; Regression discontinuity design; D83; J61; R23; Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Working Paper: The Deterrent Effect of an Anti-Minaret Vote on Foreigners' Location Choices (2019) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1007/s00148-019-00729-6

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