Is neoliberalism to blame for Orbàn and Le Pen?

17 January 2018

Populism is on the rise, especially in Europe. Determining the causes is of crucial political importance. Some claim that “neoliberal” policies such as deregulation and free trade have contributed to the populist tide.
This briefing conducts a statistical analysis of 31 European countries over a 34-year period. Neoliberalism is proxied by the Economic Freedom of the World index and the data source for populism is the Timbro Authoritarian Populism Index.
The data does not support the hypothesis that economic freedom leads to increased support for populist parties. If anything, there is a negative relationship between the two variables, although mostly not statistically significant. Expanding the size of the public sector and rolling back globalisation as policy measures against populism should therefore be expected to be ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst.

Download PDF Populism final corrected

EPICENTER publications and contributions from our member think tanks are designed to promote the discussion of economic issues and the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. As with all EPICENTER publications, the views expressed here are those of the author and not EPICENTER or its member think tanks (which have no corporate view).


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