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Electoral Systems and Immigration

Giuseppe Russo and Francesco Salsano
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Francesco Salsano: Università di Milano

CSEF Working Papers from Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy

Abstract: Unexplored stylized facts on OECD countries suggest that plurality electoral systems are associated with higher openness to immigration. We propose an explanation based on a retrospective voting model where immigration hurts voters but benefits a rent-seeking policymaker who appropriates part of the income generated by immigrants.To be reappointed, the policymaker must distribute compensation. With respect to proportional systems, plurality systems make it possible to compensate only a few decisive districts and leave higher after-compensation rents, producing therefore higher immigration. In our model, non-decisive districts receive no compensation at all under both electoral systems, providing a rationale for widespread anti-immigration attitudes. Notably, our results also help to explain why governments often seem more pro-immigration than voters. Finally, our model suggests that proportional systems may incentivize the enfranchisement of immigrants with voting rights and that opposition to immigration is more territorially dispersed in plurality systems. Basic evidence supports both predictions.

Keywords: electoral systems; rent extraction; retrospective voting; immigration (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D78 F22 H00 H40 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-mig, nep-pol and nep-ure
Date: 2017-05-15
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Related works:
Working Paper: Electoral systems and immigration (2012) Downloads
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