Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy > Vol 3 > Issue 1

Democracy in Hard Times: Economic Decline, Social Capital, and Resilience Against Far-Right Nationalism

Francesc Amat, Department of Economic History, Institutions, Politics and World Economy, University of Barcelona, Spain, , Emmy Lindstam, Department of Political Science, University of Mannheim, Germany,
Suggested Citation
Francesc Amat and Emmy Lindstam (2022), "Democracy in Hard Times: Economic Decline, Social Capital, and Resilience Against Far-Right Nationalism", Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy: Vol. 3: No. 1, pp 23-59.

Publication Date: 09 Mar 2022
© 2022 F. Amat and E. Lindstam
Comparative political economy,  Comparative politics,  Democracy,  European politics,  Political economy,  Voting behavior
Social capitalhistorical family typesfar-right nationalismeconomic insecurity


Download article
In this article:
Theoretical Framework 
Data and Empirical Specification 


Why do voters in contexts of economic decline increasingly come to support far-right nationalist parties in some places but not in others? We develop a theoretical argument regarding the role of social interconnections in shaping responses to economic insecurity and suggest that social capital can mitigate the effects of adverse economic shocks on cultural backlash. We test our theory by combining individual-level data on voting behavior from the European Social Survey (waves 1–9) with data on economic conditions and memberships in civic organizations at the level of European regions. Our findings reveal that while economic decline strengthens support for far-right nationalist parties where levels of social capital are low, this effect is reversed in areas with high levels of social capital. Results remain robust when we replicate our findings using a proxy for social capital less susceptible to endogeneity: the regional share of non-egalitarian historical family types. Our findings contribute by advancing our understanding of the conditions under which economic decline fails to prompt cultural backlash.



Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 3, Issue 1 Special Issue - The Political Economy of Populism, Part II
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.