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Working paper
Jordi Jofre-Monseny, Pilar Sorribas-Navarro, Javier Vázquez-Grenno

2011/34: Welfare spending and ethnic heterogeneity: evidence from a massive immigration wave

The aim of this paper is to examine the relationship between ethnic heterogeneity and redistribution, by using the recent and massive arrival of immigrants in Spain. Specifically, we focus on the effect of changes in immigrant density, recorded between 1998 and 2006, on contemporaneous changes in municipal welfare spending. We instrument for immigrant density using established settlement patterns per country of origin so as to assign predicted flows of immigrants to municipalities. We find that welfare spending increased less in those municipalities that recorded the largest increases in immigrant density. We also provide evidence of a positive relationship between immigrant density and the vote share accruing to right-wing parties. Hence, our results are consistent with theories that predict a negative relationship between ethnic heterogeneity and redistribution.

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