Economic Insecurity and the Causes of Populism, Reconsidered
AbstractGrowing conventional wisdom holds that a chief driver of the populist vote is economic insecurity. I contend that this view overstates the role of economic insecurity as an explanation in several ways. First, it conflates the significance of economic insecurity in influencing the election outcome on the margin with its significance in explaining the overall populist vote. Empirical findings indicate that the share of populist support explained by economic insecurity is modest. Second, recent evidence indicates that voters' concern with immigration—a key issue for many populist parties—is only marginally shaped by its real or perceived repercussions on their economic standing. Third, economics-centric accounts of populism treat voters' cultural concerns as largely a by-product of experiencing adverse economic change. This approach underplays the reverse process, whereby disaffection from social and cultural change drives both economic discontent and support for populism.
CitationMargalit, Yotam. 2019. "Economic Insecurity and the Causes of Populism, Reconsidered." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 33 (4): 152-70. DOI: 10.1257/jep.33.4.152
- D72 Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
- F52 National Security; Economic Nationalism
- J15 Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
- Z13 Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification