The Electoral Impact of Unemployment: New Evidence Using District-Level Data from the Financial Crisis (New Title)

Thursday, April 3, 2014
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
CISAC Conference Room
  • Kåre Vernby

This seminar is part of the "Europe and the Global Economy" series.

The study of the political consequences of unemployment has a long history in political science. Regarding the electoral impact of unemployment, studies have focused both on its impact on political alienation, as well as its partisan effects. The financial crisis, which unfolded following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and rapidly spread to Europe, provides us with the opportunity to make several methodological improvements over the previous literature. In our empirical analysis, we use fine-grained registry-based data on the economic impact of the crisis and how it varied across Sweden’s more than 5000 electoral districts. We combine this with district-level data on vote-shares for all major parties in parliamentary elections before and after the crisis.

The economic impact varied a great deal across Sweden, mainly affecting industrial centers. Because the impact was so diverse across electoral districts, we are able to estimate the electoral impact of unemployment more efficiently than most previous studies. Moreover, the sources of the crisis were not domestic. Because the crisis was an exogenous shock to the Swedish economy, the selection bias that is usually inherent in estimating the electoral impact of unemployment is mitigated. According to the results, the electoral impact of crisis-induced unemployment was large, leading to a marked fall in the vote share of the established left parties and a corresponding increase in that of the main radical right party.

Kåre Vernby is Associate Professor at the Department of Government, Uppsala University, where he teaches courses in comparative politics and methods.  His research interests are in political economy and political behavior and his papers have been published or are forthcoming in academic journals such as American Journal of Political Science, Electoral StudiesEuropean Union Politics and Politics & Society as well as several edited volumes.