No Country for Young People? The Rise of Anti-Immigration Politics in Ageing Societies
66 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2022
Date Written: October 2, 2022
We investigate the effects of (1) population ageing and (2) rising income inequality on immigration policies using a citizen-candidate model of elections. In each period, young people work and pay taxes while old people receive social security payments. Immigrants are all young, meaning they contribute significantly to financing the cost of public services and social security. Among natives, the elderly and the poor benefit the most from public spending. However, because these two types of voters do not internalise the positive fiscal effects of immigration, they have a common interest in supporting candidates who seek to curb immigration and increase the tax burden on high-income individuals. Population ageing and rising income inequality increase the size and, in turn, the political power of such sociodemographic groups, resulting in more restrictive immigration policies, a larger public sector, higher tax rates, and lower societal well-being. Calibrating the model to UK data suggests that the magnitude of these effects is large. The implications of this model are shown to be consistent with patterns observed in UK attitudinal data.
Keywords: Immigration, Ageing, Policy, Voting
JEL Classification: D72, J610, J14, H550
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