Perceived Inequality and Populism

About this Session


Fri. 08.04. 11:15



Speaker: Lukas Stötzer, Co-Author: Johannes Giesecke Abstract: Rising inequalities have been described as a fertile ground for populist parties all over the globe. But are individuals who perceive an unequal distribution of resources in society attracted by populism? In this article, we present evidence on the question from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and novel survey experiments. The results from the ISSP point out that voters who perceive strong inequalities in society are in some instances more likely to support populist parties like the Progress Party in Norway, the Danish People’s Party, and the Freedom Party of Austria. The comparative survey experiment in Norway, Germany, and Italy investigates the causal interpretation of these findings. Manipulating the perception of societal inequality using factual information about the wealth distribution does not result in changes in support for populists, but we find some support that it can strengthen populist attitudes. The findings speak to current debates on how macroeconomic changes in inequality might have become a pre-condition for the rise of populist parties all over Europe.