Yann Algan, Sergei Guriev, Elias Papaioannou, Evgenia Passari, 12 December 2017

A wave of populism has been gaining ground in the West since 2012. This column uses regional data for 26 European countries to explore how the impact of the Great Recession on labour markets has affected populist voting, political attitudes, and trust. The results indicate a strong link between unemployment and voting for non-mainstream (especially populist) parties. Unemployment is also correlated with increasing distrust of national and European parliaments.

Mario Blejer, Piroska Nagy-Mohacsi, 22 November 2017

Global politics of late has been marked by the rise of anti-elite political movements and anti-establishment leaders. This column analyses the tactics of such populists through the lens of the ‘time inconsistency’ problem – that what is considered a long-term optimal policy today may not be optimal when that future arrives. Populist leaders seek to gain and increase their power by undermining democratic institutions and conventional commitment devices. Several ‘second generation’ institutional commitment devices to counter this are proposed.

Gylfi Zoega, 03 November 2017

The vote for Brexit and the election of Trump are just two examples of the recent rise in populism. This column discusses how support for populist parties in Europe is closely correlated with a lack of trust in national parliaments and in the European Parliament. The EU must convince voters that it is acting in their interests and taking their concerns into account. At the same time, a distinction has to be made between decisions that should be taken at the EU level and those that are better left in the hands of the member states.

Oscar Barrera, Sergei Guriev, Emeric Henry, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 02 November 2017

‘Fake news’ has become a key ingredient of Western political discourse. This column uses an experiment conducted during the 2017 French presidential election campaign to show that ‘alternative facts’ are highly persuasive. Voters exposed to a narrative based on misleading numbers shifted towards the populist’s agenda, and fact checking did nothing to undo these effects. In fact, exposing voters only to official facts on a highly sensitive subject, such as the European refugee crisis, can backfire by increasing support for the extreme right.

Barry Eichengreen, Michael Haines, Matthew Jaremski, David Leblang, 25 October 2017

The 1896 US presidential election has acquired new resonance in light of the recent up-surge in populism. This column combines voting results with economic, financial, and demographic data from the 1890s to offer a systematic empirical study of voting patterns in the election. The results confirm a role for identity politics, but also a role for economic factors. They also suggest, however, that a small or even moderate change in economic conditions would not have altered the outcome of the 1896 election, nor the subsequent course of American history.  

Luigi Guiso, Helios Herrera, Massimo Morelli, Tommaso Sonno, 14 October 2017

Populism – on both the left and right – has recently become a powerful force in western politics. This column uses individual data on political attitudes to argue that economic drivers are the most important factors influencing the demand for, and supply of, populist parties. Recent data also show that as these parties gain support, their political rivals adapt to embrace populism.

Gordon Hanson, Chen Liu, Craig McIntosh, 04 October 2017

Rising inequality and stagnating manufacturing wages have many in the Western world questioning whether immigration may be responsible. This column takes a close look at data for the US, and reveals that tighter immigration controls are unlikely to improve the fortunes of low-skilled workers. Long-term demographic changes in the Americas imply that the pressure from illegal immigrants on US labour markets is already abating and will continue to do so.

Davide Cantoni, Felix Hagemeister, Mark Westcott, 18 September 2017

Economists and political scientists alike have tried to provide explanations for the rise of populist parties across the globe. This column examines the role of history in explaining the recent rise of the far-right in Germany. It finds that municipalities with high vote shares for the Nazi party in the late 1920s/early 1930s had also higher vote shares for the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland party in 2016/17 state elections, suggesting that historical persistence, together with a major shift in the German political landscape, can explain the rise of far-right populism.

Christian Dustmann, Barry Eichengreen, Sebastian Otten, André Sapir, Guido Tabellini, Gylfi Zoega, 23 August 2017

Recent years have seen a decline in trust in established political institutions and parties and a surge in support for populist movements and policies, not least in Europe where scepticism and, in some places, outright hostility towards the European Union is evident. This column introduces the first report in CEPR’s Monitoring International Integration series, which analyses the roots of the decline in trust in both national and European political institutions and asks whether, as a result of these developments, the EU is at risk of disintegration.

Dani Rodrik, 03 July 2017

Populism has been on the rise for quite some time, and it is doubtful that it will be going away. This column argues that the populist backlash to globalisation should not have come as a surprise, in light of economic history and economic theory. While the backlash may have been predictable, however, the specific forms it took were less so, and are related to the forms in which globalisation shocks make themselves felt in society.

Christian Dippel, Robert Gold, Stephan Heblich, Rodrigo Pinto, 12 April 2017

Finding exogenous variables to establish control mechanisms is difficult outside of randomised control trials. This column shows that under certain circumstances, it is possible to separate out the causal effect of an unknown variable on the observed and unobserved variables. When applied to trade exposure and voter sentiment for populist parties, the model is largely accurate and gives the surprising finding that 170% of the total effect of trade exposure on populist voting is explained by labour markets, meaning that trade exposure’s other effects on voting – those that do not run through labour markets – are politically moderating.

Thorsten Beck, Geoffrey Underhill, 01 March 2017

The institutions and even the very idea of the EU are under fire, with feelings of disenfranchisement among large parts of the population driving support for populist movements across the continent. This column introduces a new eBook that brings together analyses of this multidimensional crisis and of the way out - the future of the European Union. A worryingly common message is that muddling through will not be enough to save the EU as a political project.

Marco Buti, Karl Pichelmann, 22 February 2017

With its current competences lacking the ability to address distribution effects, the EU is seen as an agent of globalisation rather than a response to it.  At the same time, it is charged with undermining national autonomy, identity, and control. This column sets out five guiding principles for policy articulation at the EU level for a new positive EU narrative.

Italo Colantone, Piero Stanig, 20 February 2017

The revival of nationalism in western Europe, which began in the 1990s, has been associated with increasing support for radical right parties. This column uses trade and election data to show that the radical right gets its biggest electoral boost in regions most exposed to Chinese exports. Within these regions communities vote homogenously, whether individuals work in affected industries or not. 

Christian Dippel, Robert Gold, Stephan Heblich, 07 October 2016

The increasing polarisation of politics in the US in particular has spurred scholarly research on the potential links to increasing globalisation. This column focuses instead on Germany to investigate whether the rise of right-wing populism is associated with increased international trade. Regions most threatened by exposure to imports saw increases in support for far-right parties, while regions that benefited from export opportunities saw decreases. To counter this globalisation backlash, policy should aim to cushion the effects of trade exposure on the losers from globalisation. 

Alex Edmans, 23 September 2016

During political campaigns, candidates often set their sights on CEO compensation as a target for potential regulation. This column considers the various arguments for regulating CEO pay and questions whether it is a legitimate target for political intervention. Some arguments for regulation are shown to be erroneous, and some previous interventions are shown to have failed. While regulation can address the symptoms, only independent boards and large shareholders can solve the underlying problems.

Timothy Hatton, 07 June 2014

In the recent European Parliament elections, right-wing populist parties made significant gains. Commentators have linked the rise of these parties to growing anti-immigration sentiment in the wake of the crisis. This column examines the extent to which public opinion has in fact shifted against immigration. Survey data shows that there was no Europe-wide surge in anti-immigration opinion between 2006 and 2010, although there was a marked change in Spain, Greece, and Ireland. This suggests that populist parties’ success cannot be attributed to anti-immigration sentiment alone.

Alberto Alesina, Paola Giuliano, 23 April 2009

Will Americans turn into “inequality intolerant” Europeans? Such a radical shift is unlikely, but this column argues that this crisis may be a turning point towards more government intervention and redistribution in the US. More and more Americans believe that hard work is insufficient to climb the income ladder and are expressing anger against “unfairly” accumulated wealth. Politicians should prefer wise policies but may be tempted by populist outbursts.

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