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Does illegal immigration empower rightist parties?


The main goal of this paper is to analyze the political outcome in countries where the relevant issue in elections is the control of immigration. In particular, we explore the consequences on the political outcome of the fact that parties are either ideological or opportunistic with respect to this issue. To do that, we use a simple two-party political competition model in which the issues over which parties take positions are the levels of border enforcement and the way it has to be financed. We show that an ideological rather than a pure opportunistic behavior gives parties an advantage to win the election. This result may help us to understand the recent success of anti-immigrant and rightist parties in several countries.

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This paper has been written during my doctorate studies at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. I am deeply indebted to Enriqueta Aragonés for motivating me and making me enjoy my work a lot. I also want to thank Humberto Llavador, Micael Castanheira, Carmen Bevia, Jordi Masso and Santiago Sanchez-Pagés for their comments and suggestions. Two anonymous referees improved substantially the paper; I really thank both. Financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology (BEC2002-002130) and Fundación Ramón Areces is acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Angel Solano García.

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Responsible editor: Klaus F. Zimmermann

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García, A.S. Does illegal immigration empower rightist parties?. J Popul Econ 19, 649–670 (2006).

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  • Illegal immigration
  • Ideological parties
  • Unskilled and skilled

JEL Classification

  • J61
  • F22
  • D72