Refugees, Right-Wing Populism and Propaganda: Evidence from the Italian Dispersal Policy
56 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2022
Date Written: April 7, 2022
This paper examines how the 2014-2017 ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Italy affected voting behavior and the rise of right-wing populism in national Parliamentary elections. We collect novel administrative data across all Italian municipalities and leverage exogenous variation in refugee resettlement induced by the Dispersal Policy. We find a positive and significant effect of the share of asylum seekers on support for radical-right anti-immigration parties. The effect is heterogeneous across municipality characteristics, yet robust to dispersal policy features. We provide causal evidence that the anti-immigration backlash is not rooted in adverse economic effects, while it is triggered by radical–right propaganda.
Keywords: Immigration, Refugee Crisis, Voting Behavior, Dispersal Policy, Propaganda
JEL Classification: D72; F22; O15; P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation