DP14040 The geography of EU discontent

Author(s): Lewis Dijkstra, Hugo Poelman, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose
Publication Date: October 2019
Keyword(s): Anti-Europeanism, anti-system voting, economic decline, education, European Union, industrial decline, migration, populism
JEL(s): D72, R11
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14040

Support for parties opposed to EU-integration has risen rapidly and a wave of discontent has taken over the EU. This discontent is purportedly driven by the very factors behind the surge of populism: differences in age, wealth, education, or economic and demographic trajectories. This paper maps the geography of EU discontent across more than 63,000 electoral districts in the EU-28 and assesses which factors push anti-EU voting. The results show that anti-EU vote is mainly a consequence of local economic and industrial decline in combination with lower employment and a less educated workforce. Many of the other suggested causes of discontent, by contrast, matter less than expected or their impact varies depending on levels of opposition to European integration.