Cover of EconPol Working Paper 24

Immigration and electoral support for the far-left and the far-right

Anthony Edo, Yvonne Giesing, Jonathan Öztunc, Panu Poutvaara

Immigration increases support for far-right political candidates and reduces support for far-left candidates, with areas with low-educated non-European immigrants providing the biggest boost to the far-right. These are the conclusions of a paper released by EconPol Europe. In the paper, forthcoming in the June issue of the European Economic Review, researchers examined to what extent changes in immigration and trade patterns explain voting for far-left and far-right candidates in French presidential elections from 1988 until 2017. They control for the effects of changes in unemployment, education, and demographics.

Abstract

Immigration is one of the most divisive political issues in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and several other Western countries. We estimate the impact of immigration on voting for far-left and far-right candidates in France, using panel data on presidential elections from 1988 to 2017. To derive causal estimates, we instrument more recent immigration flows by settlement patterns in 1968. We find that immigration increases support for far-right candidates. This is driven by low-educated immigrants from non-Western countries. We also find that immigration has a weak negative effect on support for far-left candidates, which could be explained by a reduced support for redistribution. We corroborate our analysis with a multinomial choice analysis using survey data.

Citation

Anthony Edo, Yvonne Giesing, Jonathan Öztunc, Panu Poutvaara: Immigration and electoral support for the far-left and the far-right, EconPol Working Paper 24, April 2019.