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Was Brexit Caused by the Unhappy and the Old?

Author

Listed:
  • Liberini, Federica

    (ETH Zurich)

  • Oswald, Andrew J.

    (University of Warwick)

  • Proto, Eugenio

    (University of Glasgow)

  • Redoano, Michela

    (University of Warwick)

Abstract

On 23 June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (so-called 'Brexit'). This paper uses newly released information, from the Understanding Society data set, to examine the characteristics of individuals who were for and against Brexit. Two key findings emerge. First, unhappy feelings contributed to Brexit. However, contrary to commonly heard views, the key channel of influence was not through general dissatisfaction with life. It was through a person's narrow feelings about his or her own financial situation. Second, despite some commentators' guesses, Brexit was not caused by old people. Only the very young were substantially pro-Remain.

Suggested Citation

  • Liberini, Federica & Oswald, Andrew J. & Proto, Eugenio & Redoano, Michela, 2017. "Was Brexit Caused by the Unhappy and the Old?," IZA Discussion Papers 11059, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11059
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Liberini, Federica & Redoano, Michela & Proto, Eugenio, 2017. "Happy voters," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 41-57.
    2. Ginsburgh, Victor & Moreno-Ternero, Juan D. & Weber, Shlomo, 2017. "Ranking languages in the European Union: Before and after Brexit," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 139-151.
    3. Sascha O Becker & Thiemo Fetzer & Dennis Novy, 2017. "Who voted for Brexit? A comprehensive district-level analysis," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 32(92), pages 601-650.
    4. Hobolt, Sara B. & de Vries, Catherine E., 2016. "Turning against the union? The impact of the crisis on the Eurosceptic vote in the 2014 European Parliament elections," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 66831, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Ginsburgh, Victor & Moreno-Ternero, Juan D. & Weber, Shlomo, 2017. "Ranking languages in the European Union: Before and after Brexit," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 139-151.
    6. Sascha Becker & Thiemo Fetzer & Dennis Novy & Sascha O. Becker, 2017. "Who Voted for Brexit?," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 15(04), pages 03-05, December.
    7. Shaw, Duncan & Smith, Chris M. & Scully, Judy, 2017. "Why did Brexit happen? Using causal mapping to analyse secondary, longitudinal data," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 263(3), pages 1019-1032.
    8. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2005. "Partisan Social Happiness," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 367-393.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cipullo, Davide & Reslow, André, 2019. "Biased Forecasts to Affect Voting Decisions? The Brexit Case," Working Paper Series 364, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    2. Nattavudh Powdthavee & Anke C. Plagnol & Paul Frijters & Andrew E. Clark, 2019. "Who Got the Brexit Blues? The Effect of Brexit on Subjective Wellbeing in the UK," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 86(343), pages 471-494, July.
    3. Eleonora Alabrese & Thiemo René Fetzer & Thiemo Fetzer, 2018. "Who is NOT Voting for Brexit Anymore?," CESifo Working Paper Series 7389, CESifo.
    4. Georgios Kavetsos & Ichiro Kawachi & Ilias Kyriopoulos & Sotiris Vandoros, 2021. "The effect of the Brexit referendum result on subjective well‐being," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 184(2), pages 707-731, April.
    5. Alabrese, Eleonora & Becker, Sascha O. & Fetzer, Thiemo & Novy, Dennis, 2019. "Who voted for Brexit? Individual and regional data combined," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 132-150.
    6. Stephen Clark, 2020. "Who voted for a No Deal Brexit? A Composition Model of Great Britains 2019 European Parliamentary Elections," Papers 2001.06548, arXiv.org.
    7. Carlo Altomonte & Gloria Gennaro & Francesco Passarelli, 2019. "Collective Emotions And Protest Vote," BAFFI CAREFIN Working Papers 19107, BAFFI CAREFIN, Centre for Applied Research on International Markets Banking Finance and Regulation, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
    8. Barry Eichengreen & Rebecca Maria Mari & Gregory Thwaites, 2021. "Will Brexit Age Well? Cohorts, Seasoning and the Age–Leave Gradient: On the Evolution of UK Support for the European Union," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 88(352), pages 1130-1143, October.
    9. Baeckström, Ylva & Marsh, Ian W. & Silvester, Joanne, 2021. "Financial advice and gender: Wealthy individual investors in the UK," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 71(C).
    10. Nowakowski, Adam, 2021. "Do unhappy citizens vote for populism?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    11. Bove, Vincenzo & Efthyvoulou, Georgios & Pickard, Harry, 2019. "Did terrorism affect the Brexit vote?," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 415, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    12. Becker, Sascha O. & Fetzer, Thiemo, 2018. "Why an EU Referendum? Why in 2016?," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 366, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    13. Eichengreen, Barry & Mari, Rebecca & Thwaites, Gregory, 2018. "Will Brexit Age Well? Cohorts, Seasoning and the Age-Leave Gradient, Past, Present and Future," CEPR Discussion Papers 13288, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Harry Pickard, 2019. "A mailshot in the dark? The impact of the UK government's lea fet on the 2016 EU referendum," Working Papers 2019004, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    15. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Plagnol, Anke C. & Frijters, Paul & Clark, Andrew E., 2017. "Who Got the Brexit Blues? Using a Quasi-Experiment to Show the Effect of Brexit on Subjective Wellbeing in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 11206, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    European Union; referendum; Brexit; voting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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