The deterrent effect of an anti-minaret vote on foreigners’ location choices

Author(s) : Michaela Slotwinski, Alois Stutzer

Source : https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-019-00729-6

Abstract:

« In a national ballot in 2009, Swiss citizens surprisingly approved an amendment to the Swiss constitution to ban the further construction of minarets. The ballot outcome manifested reservations and anti-immigrant attitudes in regions of Switzerland which had previously been hidden. We exploit this fact as a natural experiment to identify the causal effect of negative attitudes towards immigrants on foreigners’ location choices and thus indirectly on their utility. Based on a regression discontinuity design with unknown discontinuity points and administrative data on the population of foreigners, we find that the probability of their moving to a municipality which unexpectedly expressed stronger reservations decreases initially by about 40%. The effect is accompanied by a drop of housing prices in these municipalities and levels off over a period of about 5 months. Moreover, foreigners in high-skill occupations react relatively more strongly highlighting a tension when countries try to attract well-educated professionals from abroad. »
Keywords: Attitudes, Foreigners, Location choice, Popular initiative, Regression discontinuity design 

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