The Anxious Middle Class: Risk of Downward Mobility and Support for Radical Right Parties across Western Europe
Derndorfer, J. (2023) The Anxious Middle Class: Risk of Downward Mobility and Support for Radical Right Parties across Western Europe. INEQ Working Paper Series, 28. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.
This paper studies the link between economic insecurity of the middle class and radical right party (RRP) support in 13 Western European countries. Economic insecurity is conceptualised as the occupational risk of downward mobility. To capture the potential mitigating effects of prospects of upward mobility and increasing middle class on economic insecurity, I compute a novel index which in addition to the risk of downward mobility accounts for the other two dynamics. I find that economic insecurity is distinct for occupational groups and varies by country. Both measures are positively correlated with RRP support. The results highlight that the decline of the middle class impacts the political sphere. The paper contributes to the research on economic insecurity by proposing a new measure to capture economic insecurity of the middle class and to the literature on investigating the role of latent economic threat, as opposed to economic hardship, on RRP support.