School of Economics and Management

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PhD student takes a close look at immigration: diversity good for regional economics

In three empirical studies, Greek PhD student Panagiotis Chasapopoulos investigated aspects related to international immigration, such as the relation between diversity and income, how immigrants’ countries of origin and skills level relates to anti-immigration sentiments, and, finally, the effect of immigration on electoral support for radical right-wing parties. Between 2004 and 2012, data were collected in 74 regions on the relation between cultural diversity and economic performance.

Between 2004 and 2012, data were collected in 74 regions on the relation between cultural diversity and economic performance.

  • A wide diversity among members of the population with an immigrant background has a positive effect on the income of the region.
  • Regions characterized by little social trust do not benefit from a diversified immigrant population.
  • In regions characterized by great social trust, population diversity does yield major benefits.

Between 2004 and 2012, the PhD student investigated in 78 European regions whether particular immigrant characteristics – more specifically their being of European or non-European origin, and their skills level – fueled anti-immigration sentiments.

  • It turns out that immigrants’ countries of origin have a significant effect on attitudes towards immigration
  • Immigrants’ skills levels have no direct effect on attitudes towards immigrants.
  • In regions characterized by a relatively large proportion of low-skilled immigrants, anti-immigration sentiments among the rest of the population are stronger.

Finally, the candidate also investigated if the presence and influx of immigrants in the Netherlands influences electoral support for radical right-wing parties. To this effect, he collected data from four national elections held between 2003 and 2012 in 338 Dutch municipalities.

  • The growth of immigration turns out to have a significantly positive effect on electoral support for radical right-wing parties.
  • In line with previous studies on the subject, it turns out that the cultural distance between the native population and people with an immigrant background is a significant determinant of electoral support for the radical right.

Panagiotis Chasapopoulos (Patra, 1988) got his BSc in Economics at the University of Patras (Greece) and his Master’s in Economics at VU Amsterdam (2012). He started on his PhD track at the University of Antwerp (2013-2015), and continued this track at Tilburg University (2015-2018). Since March of this year, he has been working as a business intelligence analyst at an Internet company in Amsterdam.

Panagiotis Chasapopoulos received his PhD on Wednesday, October 10, at the Tilburg School of Economics and Management (PhD defense ceremony in the auditorium, at 16:00 hrs.). His thesis is titled The impact of International Immigration and Cultural Diversity on Economic Performance, Public Attitudes and Political Outcomes in European Regions. His supervisors are: Prof. Arjen van Witteloostuijn (Tilburg University) and Prof. C. Boone (University of Antwerp).