Seminar: Transnational Terrorism and Restrictive Immigration Policies

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Seminar by Marc Helbling (paper co-authored with Daniel Meierrieks)


We study the effect of transnational terrorism risk perception on immigration policy change for a sample of 30 OECD countries between 1981 and 2010. We argue that to avoid electoral defeat governments may implement more restrictive migration policies during times of high terrorism risk to signal political resolve to an electorate that dislikes the fear and economic instability that are associated with terrorism. We find that an increased perception of transnational terrorism risk leads to stricter migration controls but does not affect general migration policy. We show that this finding holds for different operationalization of terrorism risk and when endogeneity is accounted for. Furthermore, we provide some evidence that the nexus between terrorism risk perception and immigration policy changed after the end of the Cold War, potentially as transnational terrorism by Islamist groups (which tends to be more bloody and directed at civilian targets) became more prominent.