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Scientific article
Open access
English

Austerity, Economic Vulnerability, and Populism

First online date2023-06-28
Abstract

Governments have repeatedly adjusted fiscal policy in recent decades. We examine the political effects of these adjustments in Europe since the 1990s using both district-level election outcomes and individual-level voting data. We expect austerity to increase populist votes, but only among economically vulnerable voters, who are hit the hardest by austerity. We identify economically vulnerable regions as those with a high share of low-skilled workers, workers in manufacturing and in jobs with a high routine-task intensity. The analysis of district-level elections demonstrates that austerity increases support for populist parties in economically vulnerable regions, but has little effect in less vulnerable regions. The individual-level analysis confirms these findings. Our results suggest that the success of populist parties hinges on the government's failure to protect the losers of structural economic change. The economic origins of populism are thus not purely external; the populist backlash is triggered by internal factors, notably public policies.

eng
Keywords
  • Fiscal policy
  • Globalization
  • Automation
  • Political backlash
  • Elections
  • Western Europe
Citation (ISO format)
BACCINI, Leonardo, SATTLER, Thomas. Austerity, Economic Vulnerability, and Populism. In: American Journal of Political Science, 2023, p. 1–40.
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Article (Accepted version)
accessLevelPublic
Identifiers
  • PID : unige:169792
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Technical informations

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