Becoming Neighbors with Refugees and Voting for the Far-Right? The Impact of Refugee Inflows at the Small-Scale Level
We investigate the effect of the refugee inflow between 2014 and 2017 on voting for the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the national parliamentary election in 2017 in Germany. Drawing on unique small-scale data enables us to distinguish between the contact theory, captured by the inflow of refugees into the immediate neighborhood (1km x 1km), and county-level (NUTS 3) effects, which might pick-up other, broader factors such as media coverage or specific county-level policies. We alleviate concerns of an endogenous refugee allocation by a shift-share instrument. Our results indicate that the contact theory is valid in urban West Germany, i. e., higher refugee inflows in West German urban neighborhoods decrease the shares of far-right voting, while there is no robust evidence of a relationship between refugee inflow and far-right vote shares in East Germany and rural West Germany.