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The Wild Bunch! An empirical note on populism and economic institutions

Martin Rode and Julio Revuelta

Economics of Governance, 2015, vol. 16, issue 1, 73-96

Abstract: The debate on populism has recently been revitalized by the rise of new political actors, especially in Latin America and Europe. Despite the renewed interest, the concept of populism remains vague, complicating any empirical investigation on its political and economic outcomes. Still, all populist politicians strongly emphasize the defense of the common man’s interest against those of privileged elites, suggesting that such governments will have notable implications for economic policy and institutions. Using a non-partisan indicator of populism, this paper seeks to assess the impact of populist policies on institutional change, as measured by the economic freedom of the world index. Results indicate that populist governments actively reduce economic freedom. In particular, they erode legal security, reduce freedom to trade, and tighten economic regulation. Findings expand on previous research with empirical methodology, questioning the importance of ideological orientation in some definitions of populism. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Keywords: Populism; Democracy; Economic institutions; Economic policy; N20; P44; P48 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1007/s10101-014-0154-5

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