Pro-Social Backlash: The Effect of Far-Right Success on Voluntary Welfare Provision

72 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2022 Last revised: 16 Aug 2023

Date Written: August 15, 2023


Research has argued that the success of radical parties influences citizens' attitudes, inducing legitimization among supporters while triggering backlash among opponents. Yet, especially for far-right parties, empirical tests of the backlash hypothesis are scant, and limited to shifts in opinions gauged through surveys. Using novel data on volunteering associations, this paper estimates citizens' behavioral reactions to far-right victories in Italian municipal elections. Over a mayoral term, the narrow victory of a far-right coalition is followed by an 11.4% growth in the per-capita number of local NGOs. The effect is driven by social welfare associations, which provide poverty relief and assistance to both natives and immigrants. Individual-level survey data document how the growth in volunteering is driven by left-leaning individuals with positive attitudes towards immigrants. These findings complement our understanding of the consequences of far-right success, showing that − besides shifting attitudes − it may foster behavioral reactions with tangible socioeconomic consequences.

Keywords: Far Right, Local Elections, Immigration, Social Welfare, Social Capital, Backlash

JEL Classification: D02, D72, J15

Suggested Citation

Pulejo, Massimo, Pro-Social Backlash: The Effect of Far-Right Success on Voluntary Welfare Provision (August 15, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Massimo Pulejo (Contact Author)

University of Milan and CLEAN ( email )

Via Festa del Perdono, 7

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