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The economic origins of authoritarian values: evidence from local trade shocks in the United Kingdom

Ballard-Rosa, Cameron, Malik, Mashail, Rickard, Stephanie ORCID: 0000-0001-7886-9513 and Scheve, Kenneth (2021) The economic origins of authoritarian values: evidence from local trade shocks in the United Kingdom. Comparative Political Studies, 54 (13). 2321 - 2353. ISSN 0010-4140

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Identification Number: 10.1177/00104140211024296


What explains the backlash against the liberal international order? Are its causes economic or cultural? We argue that while cultural values are central to understanding the backlash, those values are, in part, endogenous and shaped by long-run economic change. Using an original survey of the British population, we show that individuals living in regions where the local labor market was more substantially affected by imports from China have significantly more authoritarian values and that this relationship is driven by the effect of economic change on authoritarian aggression. This result is consistent with a frustration-aggression mechanism by which large economic shocks hinder individuals’ expected attainment of their goals. This study provides a theoretical mechanism that helps to account for the opinions and behaviors of Leave voters in the 2016 UK referendum who in seeking the authoritarian values of order and conformity desired to reduce immigration and take back control of policymaking.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Government
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2021 17:51
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 17:51

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