How do political rights influence immigrant integration? This study demonstrates that the timing of voting rights extension plays a key role in fostering political incorporation. In Norway, non-citizens are eligible to vote in local elections after three years of residency. Drawing on individual-level registry data and a regression discontinuity design, the study leverages the exogenous timing of elections relative to the start of residency periods to identify the effect of early access to political institutions. It finds that immigrants who received early access were more likely to participate in subsequent electoral contests, with the strongest effects visible among immigrants from dictatorships and weak democracies. It also observes evidence consistent with spillover effects for other aspects of political engagement. These findings suggest that early access to voting rights influences subsequent trajectories of immigrant incorporation, in particular among immigrants from less developed states who may otherwise face high integration barriers.
Publication details and link to source: Jeremy Ferwerda, Henning Finseraas and Johannes Bergh, Voting Rights and Immigrant Incorporation: Evidence from Norway, British Journal of Political Science, 2018