Alex Imas, Kristóf Madarász, 22 August 2020

Protectionism, nationalism, left- and right-wing populism are on the rise all over the world. This column tests the premise that the value a person attaches to consuming an object or possessing an attribute increases in others' unmet excess desire for it, terming this behaviour as mimetic dominance seeking. On the basis of two experiments designed to provide direct evidence of this behaviour, it finds that mimetic dominance leads to a reluctance to trade and a direct preference for objects that become scarcer, with the latter generating a motive for exclusion.

Jean Lacroix, Pierre-Guillaume Méon, Kim Oosterlinck, 18 July 2020

Rising populism has raised concerns that democracies may give in to authoritarian pressure. On 10 July 1940, exactly 80 years ago, the French parliament passed an enabling act granting full power to Marshal Philippe Pétain. Analysing how the Members of Parliament voted, this column shows that MPs belonging to a pro-democratic dynasty were more likely to oppose the act. Dynastic politicians may contribute to stabilising democracies by better resisting peer pressure.

Thorsten Beck, Orkun Saka, Paolo Volpin, 10 July 2020

A rapidly expanding literature has shown the importance of political economy factors for legislative and regulatory actions in the financial sector and ultimately financial sector stability and efficiency. This column reports on recent research in this field, presented at the first London Political Finance, including work on financial fragility leading to the rise of right-wing extremist parties, private interests in financial regulation, financial gains from political connections, political beliefs and financial decisions and the role of media in financial decisions.  It lays out some of the important takeaways and suggests directions for further research that can shed light on the remaining issues.

Christian Kroll, 09 June 2020

Concerns are growing that the COVID-19 crisis could be exploited by populists claiming to be the voice of those who have been ‘left behind’. This column presents a new framework which could help shed light on the relationship between sustainable development and populism. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals may be associated with diminishing electoral support for populism, but humanity must still get better at turning the trade-offs between SDGs into synergies. During the COVID-19 recovery, an effective way to prevent populists from exploiting the crisis may involve making the SDGs the policy blueprint. 

Emeric Henry, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, Sergei Guriev, 21 May 2020

The most recent manifestations of populism owe a portion of their rise to social media and the unfettered spread of false and misleading narratives or, as they are sometimes called, ‘alternative facts’. This column makes use of an online experiment conducted among Facebook users in France during the 2019 European Parliament elections to show that fact-checking can staunch the flow of false information, as can the imposition of small costs such as requiring an additional click to confirm a user’s willingness to share news.

André Blais, Damien Bol, Marco Giani, Peter John Loewen, 07 May 2020

Major crises can act as catalysts – either destabilising or strengthening the political regimes that oversee them, depending on how citizens view their government’s performance. This column analyses a cross-country survey in Western Europe during March and April, a period that saw many of these governments enforce lockdowns in response to COVID-19. It finds a rally effect: individuals who took the survey immediately after lockdowns showed more support for incumbents and for democratic institutions than those who took it before.

Gianmarco Daniele, Amedeo Piolatto, Willem Sas, 07 May 2020

Polarisation, populism, and extremism are on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic. This column focuses on the role of policies in multi-level federations (such as the EU) in partially explaining the rise of extreme political parties. An analysis of differences in vote shares between European and national parliamentary elections suggests that support for extreme politicians is highest in countries with the largest gains and losses from federal policies. Eurosceptic parties, which are very protective of national interests, win higher shares of the EU vote in core and periphery countries, whilst the opposite is true for countries in the middle.

Massimo Morelli, 08 May 2020

Political participation is an important, and often neglected, channel through which economic insecurity, reductions in trust, and changes in cultural attitudes all affect populism. This column argues both the demand for and supply of populism depend on mobilisation, and that populism can be seen as a mobilisation campaign strategy. While this framework explains the recent surge of populism, it also provides reasons to believe that the populism wave could be temporary. The column also discusses possible consequences of the Covid-19 crisis for populists in and out of power.

Sergei Guriev, 22 April 2020

Although nationalists often talk about bringing industry home, the modern economy is based more around the idea of global value chains.  The European value chain model works well for participating countries and in the current crisis  even seemingly largely self-sufficient countries such as the United States are found to be reliant on external sources for some medical and other supplies.
Sergei Guriev is speaking at the CEPR / PIIE webinar: Containing the economic nationalist virus through global coordination, held 15 April 2020.

Monica de Bolle, 22 May 2020

Monica de Bolle, PIIE, is hopeful that, while nationalist leaders may be benefiting from a surge of popularity during the current crisis, moving forward in a post-pandemic world, they are likely to be held to account for poor policy decisions by the electorate. Taken from the CEPR / PIIE Webinar 'Containing the economic nationalist virus through global coordination', held 15 April 2020

Pierluigi Balduzzi, Emanuele Brancati, Marco Brianti, Fabio Schiantarelli, 20 February 2020

The effects of shocks to political risk can be captured by the change in the spread of sovereign credit default swaps. This column shows how the rise of populist movements in Italy following the financial crisis and sovereign debt crisis affects domestic and euro area financial markets, and also impacts the Italian real economy. Italy has been an ideal laboratory to explore and learn about the economic consequences of political risk shocks, and the instability there implies that this is likely to continue to be the case in the future.

Kai Gehring, Stephan A. Schneider, 18 February 2020

Secessionist parties draw upon rhetoric on cultural identity and political autonomy to garner votes. However, the parties’ electoral success is also influenced by the availability of regional resources. This column examines two secessionist parties in the UK – the Scottish National Party and the Welsh Plaid Cymru – and the divergence in their performance following the discovery of oil within Scotland’s hypothetical maritime borders. It finds that a 10% increase in relative regional wealth is associated with an increase of 3 percentage points in the vote share of secessionist parties. Relative regional resource wealth is more important than absolute wealth, and changes in regional resource wealth only play a role when there is baseline support for secession.

Giuseppe Albanese, Guglielmo Barone, Guido de Blasio, 04 February 2020

There is a rapidly growing empirical literature on the causes of the recent rise of populism in Western countries, but much less is known about solutions. This column, part of the Vox debate on populism, shows that in areas facing similarly adverse economic shocks, the exposure to the EU regional redistribution policy has helped lowering the support for populist parties. This suggests that, at least in the short term, fiscal policy can be an effective tool against the populist backlash.

Laura Barros, Manuel Santos Silva, 24 January 2020

Brazil plunged into economic crisis between 2014 and 2018, the year when far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro won the presidential election. This column, part of the Vox debate on populism, argues that Bolsonaro’s surprising victory is partially explained by the way the economic crisis interacted with prevailing gender norms. In regions where men experience larger employment losses, there is an increase in the share of votes for Bolsonaro. In contrast, in regions where women experience larger losses, his vote share is relatively lower. This may be explained by men feeling more compelled to vote for a figure that embodies masculine stereotypes as a way of compensating for a decline in economic and social status.

Yotam Margalit, 20 December 2019

A common explanation for the rise of populism is economic insecurity driven by forces such as trade, immigration, or the financial crisis. This column, part of the Vox debate on populism, argues that such view overstates the role of economic insecurity as a driver. In particular, it conflates economic insecurity being important in explaining the overall populist vote and being important by affecting election outcomes on the margin. The empirical findings indicate that the share of populist support explained by economic insecurity is modest.  

Lubos Pastor, Pietro Veronesi, 12 December 2019

Economic anxiety and insecurity are often cited as drivers of populism, so why has populism emerged over the past few years in rich countries and in good times? This column, part of the Vox debate on the topic, argues that income inequality plays a role. When the economy is strong, everyone fares well but the rich fare especially well, fuelling inequality and resentment. Populism in the form of anti-globalisation may reduce everyone’s consumption, but it affects the rich disproportionately and thus appeals to many voters in richer countries. In poorer countries, however, voters are less willing to give up consumption for equality.

Italo Colantone, Piero Stanig, 10 December 2019

Populist parties tend to share an anti-establishment stance and the claim to represent ordinary people versus the elites. This column, part of the Vox debate on populism, argues that despite these similarities, populist parties are fundamentally heterogeneous and the drivers of their support tend to be diverse. It also argues that the economy and culture should be seen as tightly interrelated rather than mutually exclusive explanations for the populist surge, and that rather than being a simple ‘protest vote’, the surge might reflect a new political cleavage resulting from the contraposition of winners and losers from structural economic changes.

Sergei Guriev, 29 November 2019

The mobile internet, promises to give us access to information anywhere, 24 hours a day. So how has it influenced trust in governments, politics, and politicians? Sergei Guriev tells Tim Phillips about how, all over the world, 3G has reduced trust in government and aided the rise of populism. 

Sergei Guriev, Nikita Melnikov, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 31 October 2019

Information and communication technology has no doubt had a positive economic impact globally, but its political bearing is less clear. This column shows that the proliferation of mobile technology reduces citizens’ confidence in their current governments, especially in places where news broadcasting is censored but the internet is not. Furthermore, by reducing the cost of reaching voters, the internet has also led to increased support for both left-wing and right-wing populist movements.

Dani Rodrik, 29 October 2019

There are essentially two schools of thought on the roots of populism, one that focuses on culture and another that focuses on economics. This column, part of a VoxEU debate, examines the drivers from each of these perspectives. It also argues that there are times when economic populism may be the only way to forestall its much more dangerous cousin, political populism.

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