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Title: Refugees and local politics : elite and citizen responses to asylum seekers
Author: Lahdelma, Ilona
ISNI:       0000 0005 0292 1599
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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How do voters and candidates arrive at their immigration stances? Although immigration is at the center of current political debates, we know surprisingly little about how these attitudes are formed. This is because research on immigration attitudes in political behavior relies mainly on expressed preferences and aggregate election results. This thesis attempts to innovate by using outcomes that have real policy effects and are possible to measure at the micro-level with causal identification strategies. The first paper makes use of unique Finnish Voting Advice Application data that measure candidates' support for different policies. I measure the over-time evolution of candidates' revealed preferences with which they try to attract voters in local elections after receiving or not receiving asylum seekers in the constituency. The results suggest that politicians in affected rural areas update their stances to be more pro-immigration upon realising the socio-economic benefits of refugee intake. In the second paper I use this setting to measure what kinds of immigration policies are rewarded by the electorate. I propose three different ways to measure the anti-immigration vote and conclude that measuring party support brings different results from measuring individual-level policy support. All ways of measurements, however, corroborate that rural reactions to asylum seekers are more positive than urban reactions. The third paper tests the citizen-level mechanisms of this rural-urban division and concludes that people in rural areas are more receptive to asylum seekers because they experience more contact with them, don't associate them with crime, and they also economically profit more from their reception. Together, these three papers question the thus far unanimous belief that rural areas are more hostile to immigration than cities and also highlight how aggregation and analyzing parties' vote shares cloud our understanding of the formation of immigration preferences.
Supervisor: Kosmidis, Spyros ; Dinas, Elias Sponsor: Ella ja Georg Ehrnroothin Säätiö ; Emil Aaltonen Foundation ; Finnish Konkordia League ; Keskitien Säätiö
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science ; Comparative government ; Political sociology