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Are immigrants responsible for France’s low-skilled youth unemployment? An attempt at fact-checking populist rhetoric

Author:

Eliot Faron de Goër

London School of Economics and Political Science, GB
About Eliot Faron

Master of Public Administration in Public and Economic Policy, Class of 2017

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Abstract

This paper attempts to identify the impact of immigration on under-25, low-skilled, native unemployment in France using propensity score matching. Exploiting data from six census tracts between 1975 and 2013, we find that living in a county with a greater share of immigrants lowers the unemployment probability of its most vulnerable natives by 3% to 5.1%. This result is in large part imputable to the only observable difference across the treatment and control counties chosen: the foreign-born share of the population. Linking these results back to populist voting in France provides conflicting results, as natives living in areas more densely populated with immigrants also tend to disproportionately vote for Le Pen, whose core platform opposes immigration. This leads us to argue that voters are either not seeing the benefits from immigration, or they are expressing social rather than economic discontent associated with it. To avoid vital pro-immigration policies fuelling even more populism in the very near future, governments should inform more convincingly on economic impacts and reduce the social frictions associated with immigration.

How to Cite: de Goër, E.F., 2018. Are immigrants responsible for France’s low-skilled youth unemployment? An attempt at fact-checking populist rhetoric. The Public Sphere: Journal of Public Policy, 6(1), pp.15–58.
Published on 01 Jan 2018.
Peer Reviewed

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