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

Jakub Lonsky

No 540, GLO Discussion Paper Series from Global Labor Organization (GLO)

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.

Keywords: Immigration; far-right; political economy; voting (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H71 J15 J61 P16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-eur, nep-int, nep-pol, nep-soc and nep-ure
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:zbw:glodps:540

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