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Do unhappy citizens vote for populism?

Adam Nowakowski

European Journal of Political Economy, 2021, vol. 68, issue C

Abstract: This paper explores the dynamics behind the surge in populist voting across Europe. It employs individual-level cross-sectional data from 8 waves of the European Social Survey (2002–2016). I attempt to shed light on one particular perspective of viewing populist voting – the role of psychological discontent. I examine robustness to (i) different ways of defining populism, (ii) a selection of alternative specifications and (iii) estimation methods. The results suggest that generalized unhappiness with one's personal well-being – and not merely dissatisfaction with governments – could play a significant role in the rise of European populism. As such, low levels of subjective well-being are proposed as a valid predictor of shifts towards extreme movements.

Keywords: Subjective well-being; Populism; Feelings; Happiness; Life satisfaction; Health; Voting; Extremism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:poleco:v:68:y:2021:i:c:s0176268020301336

DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2020.101985

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European Journal of Political Economy is currently edited by J. De Haan, A. L. Hillman and H. W. Ursprung

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