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The Populist Backlash against Globalization: A Meta-Analysis of the Causal Evidence

Monday, April 3, 2023, 1:30 pm – 3:10 pm

The Inequalities and Democracy Workgroup of the CEU Democracy Institute cordially invites you to its seminar.

If you would like to attend, please register here.

Please keep in mind that external guests will not be able to enter the building without prior registration.

The literature on populism is divided on whether economic factors are significant and robust causes of populism. To clarify this issue, the present study performs the first systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence of a causal association between economic insecurity and populism. The study combines database search with searching the citations of eligible studies and recently published narrative reviews. 36 published and non-published papers were identified and reviewed, and a concise narrative summary and numerical synthesis of the key findings are presented. Although the review finds significant heterogeneity in several dimensions, all papers report a significant causal association. A recurrent magnitude is that economic insecurity explains around one-third of recent surges in populism. The study tests for publication bias by conducting a funnel-plot asymmetry test and a density discontinuity test of the distribution of t-statistics. There is significant evidence for publication bias; however, the causal association between economic insecurity and populism remains significant after controlling for it.

The seminar starts with a 25-minute presentation of the research followed by the comments of the discussant. Then the floor will be open for participants to ask questions and discuss the research. To be able to actively take part in the discussion, please read the draft paper beforehand which is available upon request from the author.


Gabor Scheiring (Ph.D., Cambridge), is a Marie Curie Fellow at Bocconi University. His research uses quantitative, qualitative, and comparative methods to address the socio-economic determinants of inequality in health and wellbeing, and how these inequalities shape democracy and capitalist diversity through the national-populist mutation of neoliberalism. His book, The Retreat of Liberal Democracy (Palgrave, 2020), winner of the BASEES 2021 Book Award, shows how working-class dislocation and business elite polarization enable illiberalism in Hungary. His comparative research explores how economic shocks have contributed to the post-socialist population crisis in Eastern Europe and to the deaths of despair epidemic in the US and how the lived experience of these shocks fuels populism through worse health and social disintegration.


Eva Fodor is Professor of Gender Studies at the Central European University and a Research Affiliate at DI. Eva works in the field of comparative social inequalities.  Specifically, she is interested in how and why gender differences in the labor market and elsewhere are shaped, reshaped, renegotiated and reproduced in different types of societies and in different social contexts. Her recent book, The Gender Regime of Anti-Liberal Hungary describes the introduction of what she calls a "carefare" regime in Hungary after 2010 (open access with Palgrave Pivot, 2022). Her ongoing research projects address the impact of the Covid - 19 pandemic on the division of care work, and the transformation of the labor market during and following the pandemic.