Ballard-Rosa, Cameron , Mashail A. Malik, Stephanie J. Rickard, and Kenneth Scheve (2021). The Economic Origins of Authoritarian Values: Evidence From Local Trade Shocks in the United Kingdom. Comparative Political Studies. First published online: July 16, 2021. DOI: 10.1177/00104140211024296.
What explains the backlash against the liberal international order? Are its causes economic or cultural? We argue that while cultural values are central to understanding the backlash, those values are, in part, endogenous and shaped by long-run economic change. Using an original survey of the British population, we show that individuals living in regions where the local labor market was more substantially affected by imports from China have significantly more authoritarian values and that this relationship is driven by the effect of economic change on authoritarian aggression. This result is consistent with a frustration-aggression mechanism by which large economic shocks hinder individuals’ expected attainment of their goals. This study provides a theoretical mechanism that helps to account for the opinions and behaviors of Leave voters in the 2016 UK referendum who in seeking the authoritarian values of order and conformity desired to reduce immigration and “take back control” of policymaking.
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