Comparative Economic Studies

, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 230–253 | Cite as

The Political Economy of Populism: An Empirical Investigation

  • Petar Stankov


Various macro-shocks arguably affect the demand for populism. However, there is no evidence beyond a few case studies. I expand electoral data on left- and right-wing populism and link them with per capita income, inflation, unemployment, government expenditures, income inequality, migration, trade and financial openness, and natural resource rents. Negative shocks in some of those consistently predict a surge in populist votes, even in the presence of inherent populist cycles. Shocks also affect election outcomes of left-wing and right-wing populists differently. Finally, European and Latin American voters are still different, yet converging, in their post-crisis preferences for populism.


Left-wing populism Right-wing populism Political economy Populist cycles 

JEL Classification

D72 P16 P48 P51 O57 



Many thanks to Martin Rode (University of Navarra) for sharing The Wild Bunch! data and to Andreas Heinö (Timbro Institute) for sharing the Timbro Authoritarian Populism data. Two anonymous referees, and the participants at the 12th Young Economists Seminar of the 23rd Dubrovnik Economic Conference offered invaluable advice for further improvements, especially: Oleh Havrylyshyn, Ricardo Lago, Randall K. Filer, Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, and Vahagn Jerbashian. Luboslav Kostov provided helpful research assistance.


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Copyright information

© Association for Comparative Economic Studies 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics DepartmentUniversity of National and World EconomySofiaBulgaria

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