March 2021

IZA DP No. 14159: The Consequences of Hosting Asylum Seekers for Citizens' Policy Preferences

Severin Zimmermann, Alois Stutzer

Asylum migration is a major societal challenge in the Western world affecting residents' policy preferences. We analyze the effects of newly hosting asylum seekers in a given municipality on local citizens' preferences in terms of migratory and redistributive policies as well as of support or opposition to political change in general. Policy preferences are measured based on citizens' actual voting behavior in national referendums in Switzerland between 1987 and 2017. We exploit the administrative placement of asylum seekers across municipalities and find that citizens vote temporarily slightly more restrictively on immigration issues in national referendums and are less supportive of redistribution than before hosting asylum seekers. Citizens are not more likely to vote for the status quo and not more likely to participate per se.