Øyvind Skorge

Øyvind (Ovi) Skorge, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University

Unequal risks: households, gender, and right-wing populist support in Western Europe

With David Hope (King’s College London)

Working paper (prepared for presentation at APSA 2019)

The rise of right-wing populism has been one of the most prominent political trends of the 21st century in Western Europe. A large empirical literature has emerged that finds that economic insecurity has been a central driver of this phenomenon. One major weakness of this literature, however, is that it does not take adequate account of the household. It implicitly assumes that individuals' political preferences are not influenced by the political views and labor market situation of their partners, which we know (from other prominent research) is not the case. In this paper, we fill this gap in the literature by exploring whether a household bargaining framework can shed new light on the determinants of right-wing populist support in Western Europe. Our empirical analysis looks at the relative importance of an individual's own economic insecurity and that of their partner in support for the populist right. It also explores, for the first time, whether the effect of labor market risk on right-wing populist support is influenced by individuals' gender and bargaining power within the household. We find a positive effect of economic insecurity on support for the populist right among men, but no effect among women. In addition, we find that partners' labor market risk boosts support for right-wing populist parties, especially for women with weak outside options. Our findings have important implications for our understanding of the relationship between labor market risk and right-wing populist support, as well as the enduring gender gap in support for right-wing populist parties.