M. Schaub, J. Gereke, D. Baldassarri, “Foreigners in hostile hinterlands: Local exposure to refugees and right-wing support in Eastern Germany after the refugee crisis”, under review.
ABSTRACT: How does first-time, local exposure to foreigners influence attitudes towards them and support for right-wing parties? The article exploits the quasi-random allocation of refugees to Eastern German municipalities, in which foreigners' presence was minimal prior to 2015, and anti-immigrant sentiment high. The paper relies on an innovative design, in which 1,320 German citizens were sampled from 236 closely-matched municipalities, only half of which received refugees. Survey and behavioral measures show widespread anti-immigrant sentiments and strong support for right-wing parties, but these are not affected by the physical allocation of refugees in a municipality. This null effect finding is corroborated by the analysis of a range of mechanisms. Cultural alienation and perceived neglect by the state stand out as powerful predictors of our outcomes, yet are left unaffected by local exposure to refugees. We conclude that the allocation of refugees in areas without significant prior history of immigration has had little bearing on anti-immigrant attitudes and right-wing support.
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