Not in My Backyard: Do Increases in Immigration Cause Political Violence?

Moritz Marbach | Guido Ropers

While far-right parties profit electorally from rising immigration, we know very little about how increases in immigration mobilize opposition outside the electoral arena. Using fine-grained, classified data from the Federal Criminal Office in Germany, we estimate the causal effect of a sizable increase in asylum-seekers in a community on the probability of xenophobic hate crimes. Exploiting county-level quota regimes governing the allocation of asylum-seekers in Germany, we find that when immigration levels rise nationally, an increase in asylum-seeker arrivals in a community causes an increase in xenophobic hate crimes. We also document that these crimes are directed against asylum-seekers and not other non-natives, which suggests that they are instrumental actions intended to dispel and deter asylum-seekers from local communities.