Exposure to asylum seekers and changing support for the radical right: A natural experiment in the Netherlands


As a result of the 2015 refugee crisis, a substantial number of voters experienced a sudden and unexpected influx of asylum seekers in their neighbourhood in the Netherlands. We examined whether and why local exposure to asylum seekers leads to more support for the radical right (i.e. PVV). Our analyses are based on a longitudinal individual-level panel dataset including more than 19,000 respondents (1VOP) who were interviewed just before and shortly after the height of the refugee crisis. We enriched this dataset with detailed information about where asylum seekers were housed from the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers. Our empirical study resembles a natural experiment, because some residents experienced an increase in exposure to asylum seekers but similar residents did not. PVV support increased during the refugee crisis and especially among residents who became more exposed to asylum seekers in their neighbourhood.