Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Electoral systems and immigration

Russo, Giuseppe and Salsano, Francesco (2012): Electoral systems and immigration.

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We study the effect of electoral systems on openness to immigration. According to the literature, in our model plurality systems induce a rent-seeking policymaker to get re-election through locally provided public goods rather than through transfers, whereas the opposite occurs under proportional representation. In both systems policymakers can use immigration to enlarge the tax base and retrieve increased rents after compensating the decisive majority. However, this mechanism is more effective when the increased tax base does not flow to non-voting immigrants through transfers. Therefore, plurality electoral systems generate more openness to immigration. We find support for this result on a cross-section of 34 OECD countries. In addition, we show that mass immigration \ might incentivize policymakers to get re-election throug public goods rather than transfers also in proportional electoral systems.

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