Cover of EconPol Policy Report 23

Has Immigration Contributed to the Rise of Rightwing Extremist Parties in Europe?

Anthony Edo (EconPol Europe, CEPII) and Yvonne Giesing (EconPol Europe, ifo Institute, CESifo and University of Munich)

Improving the economic and social integration of immigrants should be prioritized along with economic and health policies to prevent a rise in far-right parties in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, as the economic downturn caused by the pandemic and the increased economic insecurity of large numbers of the population could lead to xenophobic reactions and rejection of immigrants. This policy report from Anthony Edo and Yvonne Giesing analyzes the impact of immigration on the rise of far-right parties and finds that, while there is a general tendency towards an increase in far-right voting caused by immigration, this is not automatic and depends on the type of migration. And, say authors, the degree of economic and social integration of immigrants plays an important factor in the formation of anti-immigrant sentiment.  

Abstract

Alongside a range of already well documented factors such as deindustrialization, technological progress and international trade, a series of recent empirical econometric studies show that immigration has contributed to the rise of extreme right-wing parties in Europe. Our study highlights, however, that there is no mechanical link between the rise of immigration and that of extreme right-wing parties. Exploiting French presidential elections from 1988 to 2017, we show that the positive impact of immigration on votes for extreme right-wing parties is driven by low-skilled immigration and immigration from non-European countries. Our results moreover show that high-skilled immigration from non-European countries has a negative impact on extreme right-wing parties. These findings suggest that the degree of economic and social integration of immigrants plays an important role in the formation of anti-immigrant sentiment. Fostering integration should therefore reduce negative attitudes toward immigrants and preserve national cohesion at a time when the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic could reinforce mistrust and xenophobia.

Citation

Anthony Edo and Yvonne Giesing: "Has Immigration Contributed to the Rise of Rightwing Extremist Parties in Europe?" EconPol Policy Report 23, July 2020