The Political Impact of Refugee Migration: Evidence from the Italian Dispersal Policy

55 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2020

See all articles by Francesco Campo

Francesco Campo

University of Milan Bicocca

Sara Giunti

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

Mariapia Mendola

University of Milan - Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano (LdA); Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Department of Economics, Management and Statistics (DEMS); Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Center for European Studies (CefES)

Date Written: December 8, 2020

Abstract

The ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe has created a public opinion backlash. Italy has been on the frontline of this crisis but little is known about its political impact on voting behavior and electoral outcomes. We collect unique administrative data on the refugee relocation system across Italian municipalities during the crisis (2014-2017) to assess the causal effect of the inflow of asylum seekers on political support for radical-right anti-immigration parties and vote shares in parliamentary elections. We exploit exogenous variation in refugee settlement induced by the Italian Dispersal Policy, set up in 2014 to exceptionally enlarge the national reception capacity. We find a positive and significant effect of the share of asylum seekers on right-wing-populist support. The effect is significantly heterogeneous across municipality characteristics, yet robust to dispersal policy features. We show that the anti-immigration backlash is not rooted in adverse economic effects, while it is triggered by radical–right propaganda.

Keywords: Immigration, Refugee Crisis, Political Preferences, Dispersal Policy

JEL Classification: H53, I38

Suggested Citation

Campo, Francesco and Giunti, Sara and Mendola, Mariapia and Mendola, Mariapia, The Political Impact of Refugee Migration: Evidence from the Italian Dispersal Policy (December 8, 2020). University of Milan Bicocca Department of Economics, Management and Statistics Working Paper No. 456, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3744773

Francesco Campo

University of Milan Bicocca ( email )

Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo 1
Milan, MI Milan 20126
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.unimib.it/francesco-campo

Sara Giunti

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) ( email )

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom

Mariapia Mendola (Contact Author)

University of Milan - Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano (LdA) ( email )

Via Conservatorio 7
Milano, 20122
Italy

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Department of Economics, Management and Statistics (DEMS) ( email )

Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo, 1
Milan, 20126
Italy

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Center for European Studies (CefES)

U6 Building
Viale Piero e Alberto Pirelli, 22
Milano, 20126
Italy

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