University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


The central research question of this work is whether large or growing immigration populations cause a rise in support for political parties espousing anti-immigration positions. Virtually all of the research on this topic has been focused on the United States and Western Europe. This study, by contrast, looks at the impact of Nicaraguan immigration into neighboring Costa Rica on support for anti-immigration parties in that country. Existing research has found links between such support and immigration levels, as well as other variables such as education, unemployment and ethnic diversity. After reviewing the literature, I generate a series of hypotheses based on previous findings. I also introduce a novel hypothesis which suggests that the relationship between immigration levels and anti-immigration party support may not be linear; as assumed in the literature, but rather curvilinear. Using local level data on immigration levels, socioeconomic characteristics and electoral results from the 2006 national elections, I first used regression analysis to test my hypotheses. In many cases, my findings from this analysis were inconsistent with or even contradictory to the existing literature. A second set of analyses provided preliminary support for the hypothesized curvilinear relationship. This work is designed to contribute to the literature in several areas. First, it marks one oft he first efforts to analyze the dynamics of anti-immigration support in a developing rather than developed country. Second, it represents one of the relatively few attempts to explore the topic at the subnational rather than national level. Finally, it suggests the possibility of an entirely different type of relationship between immigration levels and anti-immigration voting than that assumed in the existing literature.