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Populism Amidst Prosperity:The urban-rural polarisation of political disenchantment: An investigation of social and political attitudes in 30 European countries

Michael Kenny and Davide Luca

LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series from European Institute, LSE

Abstract: Despite the prevalent focus upon increasing political divisions between urban and rural Europe, relatively little research has explored whether there is a systemic urban-rural divide in the political and socioeconomic attitudes of citizens across the entire continent. This paper aims to fill this gap. Drawing on individual-level data from the European Social Survey, it explores potential linkages between place of residence and individual attitudes. Our results show that there are strong, and statistically significant, differences between the populations in these different settings. On average, rural dwellers show stronger levels of dissatisfaction with democracy and lower trust in the political system. Yet, while we uncover stark differences in attitudes towards migration and globalisation, we do not find significant variation on some social and economic issues traditionally at the core of left-right cleavages. And our analysis suggests that this spatial divide does not operate in a binary fashion. It is more of a continuum, running on a gradient from inner cities to metropolitan suburbs, towns, and the countryside. The differences are explained by both composition and contextual effects, and underscore the importance of moving beyond ‘standard’ trade-offs between so-called ‘people-based’ versus ‘place-based’ policy approaches to territorial inequality.

Keywords: urban-rural divide; regional inequality; geography of discontent; Europe (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur, nep-geo, nep-pol and nep-soc
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