Discussion paper

DP12763 A Dialogue between a Populist and an Economist

In this imaginary dialogue, a populist and an economist discuss the role of economic shocks to explain populism. A simple correlation between economic shocks and populism is weak. However, economic shocks can explain well the phenomenon of populism in countries with low pre-existent level of trust. This is confirmed both at the macro cross-country level and also by micro evidence obtained from surveys. Finally, this finding is consistent with the “ideational approach” in political science, which emphasizes how the populist narrative opposes the “corrupt elite” to the “virtuous people.”


Spilimbergo, A, T Boeri, P Mishra and C Papageorgiou (2018), ‘DP12763 A Dialogue between a Populist and an Economist‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 12763. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp12763