This week from CEPR: 17 June
Highlights from some of the latest research reports published in the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) network’s long-running series of discussion papers, as well as some other recent CEPR publications.
Also, links to some of the latest columns on Vox, the Centre’s policy portal, which provides ‘research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists’.
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Andreas Diemer, Simona Iammarino, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Michael Storper
CEPR DP No. 17371 | June 2022
The concept of regional development trap refers to regions that face significant structural challenges in retrieving past dynamism or improving prosperity for their residents. A new CEPR study by Andreas Diemer, Simona Iammarino, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and Michael Storper introduces and measures the concept of the regional development trap for regions in Europe to identify regions either in a development trap or at significant near-term risk of falling into it. Among the findings:
- Many rural and old industrial regions, mostly in Western Europe, have since the early 1990s endured long periods of entrapment or are at significant risk of being trapped, including: Central and Northeastern France, Northern Italy, parts of Wallonia in Belgium, Northern Jutland in Denmark, Eastern Spain, or the English Midlands.
- Other traditionally well-off regions, such as Lower Austria, South Sweden, or Southern Finland also belong in this category.
- In addition, a number of low income and low-growth regions in Southern Italy and Greece –most of them in the less developed European Cohesion Policy category – are in this group.
- Many that are now trapped had not fully recovered from the shock of the Great Recession in the early 2010s, when additional shocks from global trade and COVID-19–related shutdowns, hit.
- More subtly, many were already undergoing slow loss of human capital, and others suffered from visionless if well-meaning leadership.
- Subpar economic performances, lack of employment opportunities, and loss of competitiveness are causing social and political resentment toward what is increasingly regarded – justly or unjustly – as a system that does not benefit areas being left behind.
- The problems linked to economically trapped regions have mostly been neglected by European and national decision-makers, with attention focused instead devoted to the least advanced regions or reinforcing the winners. Caught between these two views, trapped regions have struggled to attract interest.
Figure: Average risk of being trapped, quartiles of the distribution over 2001–15
FIGHTING POPULISM ON ITS OWN TURF: Experimental Evidence from Italy
Vincenzo Galasso, Massimo Morelli, Tommaso Nannicini, Piero Stanig
CEPR DP No. 17380 | June 2022
A new CEPR study by Vincenzo Galasso, Massimo Morelli, Tommaso Nannicini and Piero Stanig evaluates how traditional parties may respond to populist parties on issues that are particularly fitting for populist messages, using the 2020 Italian referendum on the reduction of members of Parliament as a case study. The authors evaluate the effectiveness of two different strategies: 1) providing factual information on the side effects of the populist reform, in order to “win the argument”; 2) attacking the populist politicians who promoted the reform as the new establishment to reduce their credibility and voters’ trust in them, thereby employing a “use the same weapons” strategy. Among the findings:
- The latter video is more effective at capturing the viewers' attention. It decreases the turnout rate and, albeit less, the "Yes" votes (in favour of cutting MPs).
- Both (unskippable) videos reduce the "Yes" votes and increase the share of undecided.
- The more aggressive “use the same weapons” strategy worked better at this. This suggests that to convince populist voters, who were not interested in acquiring information on the referendum, the most relevant aspect was to capture their attention.
- However, findings from both the field and the survey experiment show that these voters were not convinced to switch camp and vote "No", but rather become undecided or chose to not vote.
- Hence, having traditional parties exploiting this “use the same weapons” strategy has costs in terms of increasing toxic messages during the electoral campaign and of reducing political participation.
These findings suggest that traditional parties, when devising their strategy to (best-) respond to populist parties during campaigns, should focus on mobilisation rather than persuasion, and should target not only demographic characteristics but also cultural (trust) attitudes.
Mazhar Waseem interviewed by Tim Phillips, 14 June 2022
During Ramadan, observant Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. If pregnant women observe this ritual, might there be an effect on their child’s future prospects?
Sarah Smith interviewed by Tim Phillips, 10 June 2022
We know women are under-represented in economics. But if male economists are more comfortable expressing a strong opinion, does this increase the perceived imbalance? Sarah Smith tells Tim Phillips about new research into the difference between male and female voices in economics.