May 2023

IZA DP No. 16171: Electoral Effects of Integrating Forced Migrants: Evidence from a Southern Country

Sandra V. Rozo, Alejandra Quintana, Maria José Urbina

How does easing the economic integration of forced migrants affect native voting behaviors in the Global South? This paper assesses how the regularization of half a million Venezuelan forced migrants affected the electoral choices of Colombian natives by comparing election results in municipalities with higher and lower take-up rates for a program that supports forced migrants. The findings show negligible impacts on native voting behavior. The study then conducted a survey experiment to investigate the lack of voter response. Even after receiving information about the program, Colombian voters showed no changes in voting intentions or prosocial views toward migrants. This suggests that their indifference did not stem from a lack of awareness about the program. In contrast, the electoral indifference of natives may be explained by the fact that the program did not change labor and crime outcomes for native Colombians, and most migrants remained in the informal sector despite benefiting from the program through improvements in labor conditions and better access to public services.