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Left-behind versus unequal places: interpersonal inequality, economic decline, and the rise of populism in the USA and Europe

Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés ORCID: 0000-0002-8041-0856, Terrero-Davila, Javier and Lee, Neil ORCID: 0000-0002-4138-7163 (2023) Left-behind versus unequal places: interpersonal inequality, economic decline, and the rise of populism in the USA and Europe. Journal of Economic Geography, 23 (5). 951 - 977. ISSN 1468-2702

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Identification Number: 10.1093/jeg/lbad005

Abstract

Economic change over the past 20 years has rendered many individuals and territories vulnerable, leading to greater interpersonal and interterritorial inequality. This rising inequality is seen as a root cause of populism. Yet, there is no comparative evidence as to whether this discontent is the consequence of localised interpersonal inequality or stagnant growth in 'left-behind' places. This article assesses the association between levels and changes in local GDP per capita and interpersonal inequality, and the rise of far-right populism in Europe and in the USA. The analysis - conducted at small region level for Europe and county level for the USA - shows that there are both similarities and differences in the factors connected to populist voting on both sides of the Atlantic. In the USA, neither interpersonal inequality nor economic decline can explain populist support on their own. However, these factors gain significance when considered together with the racial composition of the area. Counties with a large share of white population where economic growth has been stagnant and where inequalities have increased supported Donald Trump. Meanwhile, counties with a similar economic trajectory but with a higher share of minorities shunned populism. In Europe, the most significant factor behind the rise of far-right populism is economic decline. This effect is particularly large in areas with a high share of immigration.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://academic.oup.com/joeg
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s).
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D72 - Economic Models of Political Processes: Rent-Seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
D - Microeconomics > D3 - Distribution > D31 - Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R1 - General Regional Economics > R11 - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, and Changes
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2023 08:45
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2024 16:03
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/118537

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