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The Effect of Far Right Parties on the Location Choice of Immigrants: Evidence from Lega-Nord Mayors

9 November 2016
San Francesco - Via della Quarquonia 1 (Classroom 1 )
Existing evidence suggests that the presence of immigrants has a substantial effect on the political views of the electorate, generating an advantage to parties with anti-immigration or nationalist platforms. This paper aims at exploring a closely related issue: we study whether immigrant location decisions are sensitive to the political leaning of local government. We construct a dataset of mayoral elections in Italy for the years 2000-2013, and calculate what is the effect of electing a mayor belonging to, or supported by, the anti-immigration party Lega Nord. To identify this relationship we focus on mayors who have been elected with narrow margin of victory in a regression discontinuity framework. We demonstrate a strong effect of electing a Lega-Nord mayor in discouraging immigrants to move into the municipality from other Italian municipalities. This effect is not found for immigrants who are just arrived in Italy, and are choosing their first municipality of residence. The implication of our results is that the presence of, localized, anti-immigrant mayors, leads to a reshuffling of the immigrant population across country but does not necessarily have any effect on overall immigrant numbers.
Bracco, Emanuele - Lancaster University - Lancaster