Published: Jan. 13, 2021

Angin, M, Shehaj, A, & Shin, AJ. Inside job: Migration and distributive politics in the European Union. Econ Polit. 2020; 00: 1– 25.

Published: 06 January 2021


Migration has become a top policy priority of the European Union (EU) in the wake of the 2015 migrant crisis. Given the significant ramifications of non‐European immigration for its member states, the EU has implemented a variety of policies to minimize popular backlashes within the borders of its wealthiest member states, which are also popular final destinations for migrants. In this article, we show that the EU offers financial incentives to its migrant‐transit member countries in exchange for holding migrants traveling from the Middle East and North Africa region within their territories. We use a subnational dataset on Southern Italy to examine the effects of migrant arrivals by boat on the amount of the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund received by each autonomous region between 2006 and 2018. In addition, we provide a cross‐national analysis of EU expenditures using data on unauthorized border crossings into the EU between 2009 and 2018. We find robust empirical support for the argument that the EU channels more funds to jurisdictions located on the major migrant‐transit routes.