Do Enfranchised Immigrants Affect Politicians' Behaviour?

91 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2023

See all articles by Apurav Yash Bhatiya

Apurav Yash Bhatiya

University of Birmingham - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 6, 2023


Immigrants are a large and growing unenfranchised group across many developed countries. Does immigrants’ enfranchisement affect how politicians respond to immigration? I study the unique UK context, where immigrants from Ireland and the Commonwealth have voting rights in all elections immediately upon arrival, but these rights are not accorded to other immigrants. I analyse how politicians discuss immigration using text analysis of the universe of speeches in the UK parliament and how MPs vote on immigration bills between 1972 and 2011. I use a shift-share instrument exploiting pre-existing settlement patterns to address immigrants’ endogenous location choice. I find that politicians exposed to higher enfranchised immigration spend more time in the parliament discussing issues that affect immigrants positively, yet they vote to increase immigration restrictions. Enfranchisement leads to more political engagement of immigrants, and politicians respond to this engagement. The political cost of favouring enfranchised immigrants is compensated by restricting future immigration.

Keywords: Enfranchisement, Immigrants, Representation, Parliament

JEL Classification: J15, D72, F22, H11

Suggested Citation

Bhatiya, Apurav Yash, Do Enfranchised Immigrants Affect Politicians' Behaviour? (April 6, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Apurav Yash Bhatiya (Contact Author)

University of Birmingham - Department of Economics

Birmingham Business School
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT
United Kingdom

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