Voter responses to refugee arrivals: Effects of settlement policy
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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In this paper we leverage a sudden shift in refugee settlement policy to study the electoral consequences of refugee settlements. After the 2013 Norwegian parliamentary election, the newly elected right-wing government made a concerted effort to spread newly arrived immigrants across the country, with the consequence that some municipalities with limited experience in settling refugees accepted to do so. We propose that such policy changes have political consequences, increasing the salience of immigration issues and shifting voters’ preferences to the right. We further propose that successful refugee integration can move (parts of) the electorate to the left, with stronger political polarization as a possible effect of the policy change. Applying difference-in-differences techniques, we find no evidence of unidirectional shifts in voter sentiments, but support for the hypothesis of stronger political polarization.