Jérôme GONNOT will defend his thesis on «Essays in Political Economy» on Wednesday 21th October 2020 at 10:00 AM (by ZOOM meeting).
Supervisor: Philippe DE DONDER
- Simone MORICONI, IESEG School of Management
- Javier VAZQUEZ-GRENNO, Universitat de Barcelona et Institut d'Economia de Barcelona
- Karine VAN DER STRAETEN, CNRS-TSE
- François POINAS, Université Toulouse 1 Capitole
- Philippe DE DONDER, CNRS-TSE
This thesis contains three essays that investigate the political integration and assimilation of foreign-born immigrants and the rise of socially conservative, so-called "populist" actors on the political scene in Western Europe. The shared feature of all three chapters is that they directly study the political transformation of contemporary Western European countries.
The first chapter examines natives' decision to grant political rights to foreign residents based on their contribution to a redistribution mechanism that finances a private and a public good. I propose a model where agents' preferences are determined by their skill level and cultural beliefs about public spending, which vary across nationalities. In contrast with a standard prediction of the political economy literature, I show that low-skill natives are willing to enfranchise relatively skilled foreigners as long as these foreigners have sufficiently liberal beliefs towards public spending. Moreover, I establish that the political rights that low-skill natives are prepared to grant to foreign residents is a non-monotonic function of immigration's skill level and cultural taste for public expenditure. In particular, low-skill natives favor greater political integration of less-skilled or more liberal foreigners if and only if these foreigners' average relative preferences for the private and the public good are sufficiently close to their own. I provide empirical support for some of the theoretical predictions of my model using an original municipality-level dataset of Swiss referenda about non-citizen voting rights. My results indicate that municipalities where a higher share of natives received social transfers were more likely to support immigrant voting and that this effect was greater where foreigners were poorer and emigrated from less economically conservative countries.
In the second chapter of this dissertation, Paul Seabright and I explore why voters might vote for candidates who are outsiders to the political Establishment and are willing to tolerate candidate characteristics they dislike. We develop a model in which these outsiders are perceived as more likely than Establishment candidates to implement economic policies that are congruent with voters' interests, and voters have imperfect information about candidates' type. An Establishment candidate seeking election may therefore choose a conservative social platform for populist reasons - that is, as a way of signaling independence from the interests of the Establishment. This requires that the value of social policies as signals of future economic policy outweighs their value as signals of future social policies. This populist strategy is more likely when voters' trust in economic and social policy announcements is low, when the cost for candidates of breaking campaign promises once elected is low, and when there exist few alternative ways for the voters to evaluate the likelihood that the candidate will implement policies that run counter to the interests of the Establishment. Using survey data from several European countries, we also successfully test the main prediction of the model that liberal voters are less sensitive to ideological convergence with political parties, and thus more likely to vote for social outsiders, when they have lower levels of trust in politicians.
In the third and final chapter, I study to what extent and at what pace immigrants adapt to the political norms that prevail in their host countries. I use a cross-national research strategy to compare and analyze attitudes of foreign-born individuals in 16 European countries and find strong empirical support for assimilation over time: On average, the opinion gap between natives and immigrants' political preferences on redistribution, gay rights, EU unification, immigration policies, and trust level in national governments is reduced by 40 % after 20 years of residence in the destination country. I also provide evidence that most of this assimilation is driven by immigrants from non-developed countries, and that convergence in political preferences varies significantly across immigrants' economic and cultural background as well as with the size of the immigrant group from their country of origin. Finally, I show that a substantial part of assimilation on gay rights, immigration and political trust is driven by acculturation at the national level where immigrants with longer tenure tend to adapt more to the political preferences of natives in their destination country. These findings shed new light on the timing and magnitude of the political assimilation of first-generation immigrants, with potentially important implications for the political economy of immigration policy.