Banlieue at the Ballot Box

Immigration and Political Outcomes in Urban Neighborhoods


Most immigrants in Western Europe live in large metropolitan suburbs. Natives in the same suburbs are the privileged target of far right-wing politicians. Still, very little is known about the politics of those highly relevant places. This study is the first to address this question directly. How does immigration shape voting in large metropolitan suburbs? The answer is far from obvious, because metropolitan suburbs are located between the cosmopolitan city centers and the nationalist countryside. I exploit a natural experiment across French metropolitan suburbs, consisting of a legal population-based discontinuity in the provision of public housing. I show that municipalities that increased their supply of public housing over the period 2000-2015 also experienced an increase in the share of immigrants over natives, resulting in different voting patterns in the 2017 presidential election. The policy-induced shock on preexisting migration chains allows to isolate the effect of immigration on voting, whilst controlling for the direct effects of public housing and past immigration. Immigration causes an increase in the vote share for far right parties. The evidence suggests a role for perceived (but not realized) competition over welfare benefits to be the driving force behind the results.

Working Paper
Gloria Gennaro

My research interests include comparative politics, political economy and text as data.