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Political economy and
the distrust of citizens
OECD Nov. 29
YANN ALGAN
Controversy :
« Cultural backlash versus economic factors »
• Origins of the rise of political polarization and anti-system votes
• Culture : Norris & Inglehart (2019, Cultural backlash, OUP)
• Economic shocks
1. Distrust in institutions:
Common to all anti-system voters
All voters of anti-system parties share a high level of distrust towards institutions.
Source: Algan, Beasley, Cohen, Foucault (2019) - ESS
Yellow vests movementDistrust in national institutions in Europe
Voteforaanti-systemparty
Trust in national Parliament
How much do you trust the government?
1. Not at all -> 4. A lot
Average score
FrenchPresid.Votechoice(2017,1stround)
Distrust in institutions / Life satisfaction - Economic factors
Various candidates for economic insecurity
5
• Financial crisis : ex. Algan, Guriev, Papaioannou, Passari,
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2017; Eichengreen (2018)
• Globalization: Autor, Dorn, Hanson : QJE (2014), NBER (2016)
• Job polarization : Zhen Jie Im, Mayer, Palier & Rovny (2019)
• Inequality: Piketty (2019)
6
Ex. : Financial Crisis
Distrust in institution: lines up with life satisfaction
Economic factors
Weighted average of responses for voters for each candidate in the first round in
2017.
High Trust
Low Trust
High Life
Satisfaction
Low Life
Satisfaction
Anti-system -------------------------- Pro-System
2. Cultural values : Trust in others
explains the polarization High Trust
Low Trust
High Life
Satisfaction
Low Life
Satisfaction
Anti-system -------------------------- Pro-System
Progressiveculture------Conservativeculture
Why don’t poor people vote for
redistribution? : Diagonal
Weighted average of responses for voters for each candidate in the first round in
2017.
High Trust
Low Trust
High Life
Satisfaction
Low Life
Satisfaction
Anti-system -------------------------- Pro-System
Progressiveculture------Conservativeculture
Trust in system : EU-15 and USA
Redistribution, EU-15 and USA
3. Loneliness in Post-Industrial societies
• Yellow vest movement: mainly workes in isolated services:
truckers, social care, single mothers ….
• Loneliness in territories:
7.7
7.8
7.9
8
8.1
8.2
Commune
rurale
2 000 à 19 999 20 000 à 99
999
100 000 à 199
999
200 000 à 2
millions
Paris
Satisfactiondvis-à-visdesrelations,
échellede0à10
Type d'unité urbaine (en nombre d'habitants)
Amis
Famille
Public services / Social relationships
Conclusion
• Politics of 2 new axes provide a comprehensive framework to understand
the political polarization
• Low life satisfaction and distrust in institutions are common to anti-system votes
• Interpersonal trust : split between radical left/right votes
• Determinants:
• Life satisfaction and distrust in institutions: highly correlated with economic
insecurity
• Interpersonal trust: Mobility and loneliness in post-industrial societies
• Policy consequences :
• Redistribution and inequality (Piketty, 2018).
• But part of the poor vote for anti-redistributive platforms
• Policies to boost generalized trust and fight loneliness at work and in remote
territories (post Yellow vests recommendations)

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Yann Algan : Populisms and public policy

  • 1. Political economy and the distrust of citizens OECD Nov. 29 YANN ALGAN
  • 2. Controversy : « Cultural backlash versus economic factors » • Origins of the rise of political polarization and anti-system votes • Culture : Norris & Inglehart (2019, Cultural backlash, OUP) • Economic shocks
  • 3. 1. Distrust in institutions: Common to all anti-system voters All voters of anti-system parties share a high level of distrust towards institutions. Source: Algan, Beasley, Cohen, Foucault (2019) - ESS Yellow vests movementDistrust in national institutions in Europe Voteforaanti-systemparty Trust in national Parliament How much do you trust the government? 1. Not at all -> 4. A lot Average score FrenchPresid.Votechoice(2017,1stround)
  • 4. Distrust in institutions / Life satisfaction - Economic factors
  • 5. Various candidates for economic insecurity 5 • Financial crisis : ex. Algan, Guriev, Papaioannou, Passari, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2017; Eichengreen (2018) • Globalization: Autor, Dorn, Hanson : QJE (2014), NBER (2016) • Job polarization : Zhen Jie Im, Mayer, Palier & Rovny (2019) • Inequality: Piketty (2019)
  • 7. Distrust in institution: lines up with life satisfaction Economic factors Weighted average of responses for voters for each candidate in the first round in 2017. High Trust Low Trust High Life Satisfaction Low Life Satisfaction Anti-system -------------------------- Pro-System
  • 8. 2. Cultural values : Trust in others explains the polarization High Trust Low Trust High Life Satisfaction Low Life Satisfaction Anti-system -------------------------- Pro-System Progressiveculture------Conservativeculture
  • 9. Why don’t poor people vote for redistribution? : Diagonal Weighted average of responses for voters for each candidate in the first round in 2017. High Trust Low Trust High Life Satisfaction Low Life Satisfaction Anti-system -------------------------- Pro-System Progressiveculture------Conservativeculture
  • 10. Trust in system : EU-15 and USA
  • 12. 3. Loneliness in Post-Industrial societies • Yellow vest movement: mainly workes in isolated services: truckers, social care, single mothers …. • Loneliness in territories: 7.7 7.8 7.9 8 8.1 8.2 Commune rurale 2 000 à 19 999 20 000 à 99 999 100 000 à 199 999 200 000 à 2 millions Paris Satisfactiondvis-à-visdesrelations, échellede0à10 Type d'unité urbaine (en nombre d'habitants) Amis Famille
  • 13. Public services / Social relationships
  • 14. Conclusion • Politics of 2 new axes provide a comprehensive framework to understand the political polarization • Low life satisfaction and distrust in institutions are common to anti-system votes • Interpersonal trust : split between radical left/right votes • Determinants: • Life satisfaction and distrust in institutions: highly correlated with economic insecurity • Interpersonal trust: Mobility and loneliness in post-industrial societies • Policy consequences : • Redistribution and inequality (Piketty, 2018). • But part of the poor vote for anti-redistributive platforms • Policies to boost generalized trust and fight loneliness at work and in remote territories (post Yellow vests recommendations)