Katarina Jensen, University of California, Berkeley (Job Market Seminar)

“The Political Consequences of Immigration: Evidence from Refugee Shocks in Denmark”


across but also within parties. In this article, I utilize the quasi-random allocation of refugees to Danish municipalities and subsequent settlement patterns to study how an inflow of refugees affects local politics within and across parties. Drawing on an administrative dataset consisting of the full population of political candidates for Danish municipal councils from 1993-2013, I show that in this setting, exogenous changes in the share of refugees do not change vote shares for far-right nor established parties. Instead, refugee migration causes more candidates with a low socioeconomic status (SES) to enter and be elected into politics. This effect is driven both by parties and voters: First, established parties place low-SES candidates higher on lists and switch to a party system, where individual candidate popularity, rather than party list position, determines election. Second, voters cast individual votes for these low-SES candidates. In a nationally representative survey experiment, I study what the election of low-SES candidates tells us about policy preferences. I find that voters’ preference for low-SES candidates can in part be explained by their increased preferences for redistribution toward economically vulnerable natives, which mirrors the preferences of low-SES candidates. The findings in this paper suggest that parties may be able to compete with the far right by including and promoting socioeconomically representative candidates and increasing voter influence over candidate selection.

Contact person: Asger Lau Andersen