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Is it culture or economics?Are Donald Trump's presidency, Brexit and the rise of right-wing nativist political parties in continental Europe the consequence of a deepening rift in values between social conservatives and social liberals, with the former having thrown their support behind xenophobic, ethno-nationalist, authoritarian politicians?If authoritarian populism is rooted in economics, then the appropriate remedy is a populism of another kind -- targeting economic injustice and inclusion, but pluralist in its politics and not necessarily damaging to democracy.The most thorough and ambitious version of the cultural backlash argument has been advanced by my Harvard Kennedy School colleague Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart of the University of Michigan. In a recent book, they argue that authoritarian populism is the consequence of a long-term generational shift in values.This process, moreover, is self-reinforcing: Economic success in large cities validates urban values, while self-selection in migration out of lagging regions increases polarization further.On the other side of the argument, economists have produced a number of studies that link political support for populists to economic shocks. Ultimately, the precise parsing of the causes behind the rise of authoritarian populism may be less important than the policy lessons to be drawn from it.
Tackling inequality from the middle
Democracy on a knife-edge across the world
Worrying about income gaps within or between countries
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