Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Austerity and Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe, 1919-2008

Author(s): Jacopo Ponticelli and Hans-Joachim Voth

Publication Date: August 2011

Keyword(s): demonstrations, Europe, government deficits, instability, public expediture, riots and unrest

Programme Area(s): International Macroeconomics

Abstract: Does fiscal consolidation lead to social unrest? Using cross-country evidence for the period 1919 to 2008, we examine the extent to which societies become unstable after budget cuts. The results show a clear correlation between fiscal retrenchment and instability. We test if the relationship simply reflects economic downturns, and conclude that this is not the case. While autocracies and democracies show a broadly similar responses to budget cuts, countries with more constraints on the executive are less likely to see unrest after austerity measures. Growing media penetration does not strengthen the effect of cut-backs on the level of unrest.

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Bibliographic Reference

Ponticelli, J and Voth, H. 2011. 'Austerity and Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe, 1919-2008'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.