Political Economy Research Group (POLECON)
On both sides of the Atlantic, the Western world is facing radical political changes. In some countries, calls for protectionism vis-à-vis immigrants and globalization have ignited the extreme policy positions of the Trump administration in US and post-Brexit UK. Nationalism and closure to immigration are on the rise also in Germany and France and everywhere in the EU within and outside the Euro area. In many countries, from Italy to Spain, Greece and Sweden, mounting protest against inequality, capitalist values, and supranational institutions have sparked the rise of left-wing populist movements calling for guaranteed minimum income and other forms of short-term economic protection.
Given these recent political transformations and the public backlash against globalization, immigration, and inequality, we believe there is ample scope for more discussion in the scientific community on the interaction between economic policy and political outcomes. The POLECON Research Group responds to the need for this type of research in the context of Europe. This new CEPR initiative aims to foster a lively intellectual debate on these issues, spread research findings to a broader audience, and offer policymakers valuable recommendations for the design of novel and ambitious policies.
The network also fosters a closer dialogue between Public Economics and Political Economy. These disciplines have natural complementarities, but have traditionally taken different paths. Political economy focuses more on the political feasibility of certain policies by looking at which policies are more likely to enjoy public support and thus succeed in an electoral contest. Public economics looks more at determining which policies are optimal in every environment, but is less concerned about their political approval or feasibility. Recent events have raised awareness for the need for more integration between these two approaches as political resistance to the adoption of potentially beneficial polices has become ever more salient. A large number of CEPR researchers work at the intersection of these two areas, and POLECON's goal is to seize on this opportunity and consolidate this group to foster research activities and collaborations that will spill over to other CEPR activities within and beyond the Public Economics programme.
The activities of the POLECON Research Group include:
- Discussion paper series: The POLECON Research Group contributes research to the CEPR Discussion Paper Series.
- Publications and other outlets: Members of the POLECON Research Group contribute to CEPR publications and outlets, including e-books. Possible topics of interest include:
(i) New/traditional media and politics: investigating how the changing media environment is contributing to reshape the political landscape.
(ii) Determinants and consequences of populism: what is populism, how support for populist movements emerge, what are the political and economic implications of populist platforms.
(iii) Echo-chambers and political polarisation: how selective exposure to information can foster political polarization and ideological segregation.
Events: Organizing 2-4 conferences annually, one of which will coincide with the Public Economics annual symposium. Both new events will be created, as well as the incorporation of some existing conferences into the CEPR events calendar.
Inaugural Conference, March 20-21 2020, Rome
We will kick off our activities with an inaugural conference which will take place at EIEF in Rome and will include a keynote address by Thomas Piketty entitled "Capital and Ideology". The conference builds on the previous 7 successful annual meetings held in Venice between 2013-2019; it has become the leading annual political economy conference in Europe and it is organised jointly with Warwick University, Princeton University and the Unversity of Utah.
CEPR Public Economics Annual Symposium, June 8-9 2020 (TBC), Stockholm
The annual Symposium of the Public Economics programme area will feature a dedicated POLECON session on the economics of "Populism".*
Members: the Research Group is open to CEPR academics with European affiliations working in the area of Political Economy who are already affiliated to the Public Economics Programme. New recruits may also be invited among CEPR affiliates and fellows outside the PE Programme.
Mobilising and coordinating European academics in the field of Political Economy: In addition to CEPR researchers interested in political economy, the CEPR POLECON Research Group also aims to mobilise and coordinate existing networks of researchers working in this area. In this regard, we have secured the endorsement of the executive committee of the European Political Economy Consortium (EPEC), a research network including institutions from six European countries, and of POLECONUK, a network of UK-based academics doing research in political economy.
Synergies and joint activities with the Public Economics Programme. One goal of POLECON is to foster an academic debate and collaboration between the two fields (Political Economy and Public Economics) that are inherently interested in public policy and how it is formed. As such, one of the initial meeting points will be the public economics annual CEPR Symposium.
* Note that CEPR also has a Research Policy Network on Populism, led by Sergei Guriev. Many members of POLECON are also involved with this RPN.