Discussion paper

DP13107 Inequality Aversion, Populism, and the Backlash Against Globalization

Motivated by the recent rise of populism in western democracies, we develop a tractable equilibrium model in which a populist backlash emerges endogenously in a strong economy. In the model, voters dislike inequality, especially the high consumption of ``elites." Economic growth exacerbates inequality due to heterogeneity in preferences, which generates heterogeneity in returns on capital. In response to rising inequality, rich-country voters optimally elect a populist promising to end globalization. Equality is a luxury good. Countries with more inequality, higher financial development, and trade deficits are more vulnerable to populism, both in the model and in the data.


Pástor, L and P Veronesi (2018), ‘DP13107 Inequality Aversion, Populism, and the Backlash Against Globalization‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 13107. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp13107