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The political consequences of demographic change: empirical evidence from migration, naturalisation and pension reform in Britain

Pupaza, Elena C. (2021) The political consequences of demographic change: empirical evidence from migration, naturalisation and pension reform in Britain. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004353


This thesis monitors the evolution of voting behaviour and public opinion as a function of the socio-economic composition of the electorate. While much research focuses either on public opinion data or electoral outcome data, I bring the two together, yielding a detailed analysis of behavioural and preference changes produced by some of the most fundamental policy decisions implemented over the past three decades in the United Kingdom (EU enlargement, Brexit referendum and pension reforms). Empirically, the thesis combines high quality sources of data from secure panel studies, population censuses, Freedom of Information requests, electoral results and other administrative databases, and applies cutting edge causal inference methodology to reveal how demographic changes in the country have shaped the political sphere. The first paper, “Pension Reform: Electoral Accountability with Time Lags", finds that voters become and remain disillusioned with politics when policies are implemented, and information is disseminated with a considerable time lag. In the second paper, “Migration: Low-Cost Flights and Far-Right Votes”, Joachim Wehner and I develop an instrumental variable approach and find that the spatial predictability of migrant settlement linked to pre-existing transport infrastructure has a large positive effect on changes in support for far-right anti-immigrant parties. In the last paper, “Naturalisation: Brexit and the Making of New Citizens”, I explore how the Brexit referendum could shape future electoral turnout and outcomes by changing the profile and incentives of the average naturalized citizen. The thesis makes three main contributions. Firstly, it challenges the assumption that voters react immediately when presented with new policies, especially those that have long implementation lags. Secondly, it provides an interdisciplinary approach to understanding how diverse actors respond to demographic changes. Lastly, it encourages the concomitant use of public opinion and observational data to study policy implications.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Elena C. Pupaza
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Bruter, Michael and Leeper, Thomas and Wehner, Joachim

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