Electoral incentives may affect immigration policies

Electoral incentives can have a significant impact on immigration policies, as shown by a study co-authored by our researcher, Matteo Gamalerio from the UB School of Economics, and Margherita Negri from the University of St. Andrews. Titled “Not welcome anymore: the effect of electoral incentives on the reception of refugees” and published in the Journal of Economic Geography, the study examines the Italian system for refugee reception, using data from municipalities in Italy.

Interestingly, the study found that proximity to elections reduces the probability that a municipality applies to host a refugee center by 26%. This is a significant impact, despite the fact that hosting these centers brings economic benefits to the hosting municipality. The research also revealed that low electoral competition and high shares of extreme-right voters are the driving factors behind this effect.

These findings help explain the unequal distribution of refugees across and within countries. Therefore, policymakers should take these findings into account when designing and implementing immigration policies. Rather than being solely driven by electoral incentives, policies should be based on a broader consideration of economic, social, and humanitarian factors.

Furthermore, the study highlights the importance of greater transparency and accountability in the political process, especially regarding the role of electoral incentives in shaping policy decisions. The UB School of Economics supports this type of research that helps to inform evidence-based policies and decision-making.

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