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NASP Seminar - Jeannet - 08/06/2021

NASP Seminar

Anne-Marie Jeannet (University of Milan)

Geographies of Discontent: Regional Industrial Decline and Satisfaction with Democracy

Chair: Paola Rebughini (University of Milan)

8 June 2021, h. 15.00-17.00 on ZOOM
For PhD students only: Room B, via Pace 10 Milan

Abstract
This paper - cohautored with Chiara Allegri and Paul Maneuvrier-Hervieu - aims to investigate how exposure to regional industrial de- cline has affected citizens' satisfaction with democracy. Previous research has investigated the impact of macro-economic fluctuations on citizen satisfac- tion with democracy yet the role of permanent economic structural changes is overlooked. We advance a theoretical framework positing that, due to our industrial past, positive citizen assessments of democracy have become con- tingent upon improving living standards and availability of industrial work. We also conceptualize regions as a source of contextual exposure to dein- dustrialization, which is independent from a person's occupation or social class. To empirically test this, we estimate the impact of regional industrial decline on citizen satisfaction with democracy by exploiting its regional and temporal variation in Europe using Eurobarometer data (1983-2017). The findings are consistent with the predictions of economic performance theory, whereby individuals who have been exposed to a regional decline in industry are less satisfied with democracy even when taking into account social class or other relevant individual attributes. We corroborate this finding by apply- ing an instrumental variable approach using the spatial location of historical coal fields and carboniferous geological strata as a an instrument for regional deindustrialization. Our findings imply that democratic discontent brought about by industrial decline is not only a working class phenomenon and that economic restructuring has diffuse effects at the regional level.

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