Workplace Contact and Support for Anti-Immigration Parties

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This is an updated version of the working paper (updated 14th June 2021)

This paper asks whether support for anti-immigration political parties increases or decreases when native-born voters work alongside migrants. It finds that working together significantly reduces opposition to immigration and this leads to lower support for those parties.

The researchers used detailed data from three million people in almost 6,000 electoral precincts across Sweden. All of those studied had jobs and worked alongside other people and who voted at three elections between 2006 and 2014. The researchers looked at whether the vote share for the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration party, was higher or lower in precincts where there was a large share of non-European co-workers alongside the native-born workers.

The paper presents three main findings:

• An increased presence of minorities at work makes natives less inclined to vote for an anti-immigration party, particularly in smaller workplaces.
• The finding holds true even among similarly-skilled workers who must compete with one another for jobs.
• However, the findings do not hold true for those in vulnerable occupations where there is a greater threat of job loss.

The findings are interesting because they differ from most studies on immigration, which tend to find that a greater share of migrants in a neighbourhood leads to greater support for anti-immigration parties.

The authors conclude that their findings do not necessarily contradict the other re-search. Instead, they suggest that in future research more emphasis and focus should be given to how different types of contact can affect voting for anti-immigration parties.