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Populism and Social Polarization in European Democracies

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  • Victor Ginsburgh
  • Sergio Perelman
  • Pierre Pestieau

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to explain populist attitudes that are prevailing in a number of European democracies. Populist attitudes expectedly lead to social protests and populist votes. We capture the populist wave by relying not on voting behavior but rather on values that are traditionally viewed as populist values, such as distrust of institutions and neighbors, rejection of migrations and strong preferences for law and order. Our study covers the period 2004 to 2018 and 25 European countries for which we match aggregated indicators of populist values and social polarization computed from ESS and SILC survey micro-data, respectively. We find that social polarization, along with other factors, can explain populist attitudes. We also observe that both populist attitudes and polarization vary across countries much more than over time, with the exception of authoritarian values which appear positively correlated with social polarization, particularly among baby-boomers and younger cohorts.

Suggested Citation

  • Victor Ginsburgh & Sergio Perelman & Pierre Pestieau, 2020. "Populism and Social Polarization in European Democracies," Working Papers ECARES 2020-27, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/309660
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. José G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2005. "Ethnic Polarization, Potential Conflict, and Civil Wars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 796-816, June.
    2. David Autor & David Dorn & Gordon Hanson & Kaveh Majlesi, 2016. "Importing Political Polarization? The Electoral Consequences of Rising Trade Exposure," NBER Working Papers 22637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1994. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 819-851, July.
    4. Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2011. "Linking Conflict to Inequality and Polarization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1345-1374, June.
    5. Ingo Geishecker & Thomas Siedler, 2012. "Job Loss Fears and (Extremist) Party Identification: First Evidence from Panel Data," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 511, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    6. Rodrik, Dani, 2017. "Populism and the Economics of Globalization," CEPR Discussion Papers 12119, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Massimo Anelli & Italo Colantone & Piero Stanig, 2019. "We Were The Robots: Automation and Voting Behavior in Western Europe," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1917, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    8. Difei Geng, 2012. "Identifying the Unique Polarization Index: A Mean-Preserving Axiomatic Approach," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 14(5), pages 791-812, October.
    9. José Garcia Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2004. "Ethnic polarization, potential conflict and civil wars," Economics Working Papers 770, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 2005.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    populism; polarization; social divide;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General

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