Brothers or Invaders? How Crises-Driven Migrants Shape Voting Behavior

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Sandra Rozo, Juan Vargas
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ESOC Working Paper 12

Can voter’s negative attitudes toward immigration be explained by self-interest or sociotropic motives? Self-interested voters care about their personal economic circumstances. Sociotropic voters display in-group bias and perceive migrants as threats to their culture. We study the voting effects of forced internal and international migration in Colombia and exploit the disproportionate flows of migrants to municipalities with early settlements of individuals from their origin locations. In line with the sociotropic hypothesis, we find that only international migration inflows increase political participation and shift votes from left- to right-wing ideologies. These results are not accounted for by the observed changes caused by migrants in socioeconomic variables.