Unexplored stylized facts on OECD countries suggest that plurality electoral systems are associated with higher openness to immigration. We propose an explanation based on a retrospective voting model where immigration hurts voters but benefits a rent-seeking policymaker who appropriates part of the income generated by immigrants. To be reappointed, the policymaker must distribute the compensation. With respect to proportional systems, plurality systems make it possible to compensate only a few decisive districts and leave after-compensation rents higher, therefore producing higher immigration. In our model, non-decisive districts receive no compensation at all under both electoral systems, providing a rationale for widespread anti-immigration attitudes. Notably, our results also help to explain why governments often seem more pro-immigration than do voters. Finally, our model predicts that opposition to immigration is more geographically dispersed in plurality systems. Basic evidence supports this prediction.

Electoral systems and immigration

Russo G.
;
2019

Abstract

Unexplored stylized facts on OECD countries suggest that plurality electoral systems are associated with higher openness to immigration. We propose an explanation based on a retrospective voting model where immigration hurts voters but benefits a rent-seeking policymaker who appropriates part of the income generated by immigrants. To be reappointed, the policymaker must distribute the compensation. With respect to proportional systems, plurality systems make it possible to compensate only a few decisive districts and leave after-compensation rents higher, therefore producing higher immigration. In our model, non-decisive districts receive no compensation at all under both electoral systems, providing a rationale for widespread anti-immigration attitudes. Notably, our results also help to explain why governments often seem more pro-immigration than do voters. Finally, our model predicts that opposition to immigration is more geographically dispersed in plurality systems. Basic evidence supports this prediction.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11386/4738313
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