The Economic Analysis of Populism. A Selective Review of the Literature

Emilio Ocampo | UCEMA

Por Emilio Ocampo

Serie Documentos de Trabajo. Mayo de 2019.

Although theapplication of the conceptual and analytical frameworkof economics to the studyof populismis still in its infancy, great advanceshavebeen made in recent years. Thispaper  reviews some  keycontributions behind this  progress.When analyzingpopulism,economists  face  two  methodological  hurdles: lack  of  consensus and clarity about its definitionand reconciling the populist vote with voter rationality. Theformer  has  plagued  sociologists  and  political  scientistsfor  decades.  As  to  the latter, it raises a conundrum: if populist policies aredetrimental to economic growth, as most economists agree, the vote for a populist candidate suggests someirrationalityor  inefficiencyin  the  political  markets. The  works  reviewed in  this  paperproposealternative approaches to addressboth issues. The most promising line of researchin the  economic  analysisof populismdrawsconcepts  from  other  social  sciences  such political theory, sociology, history and social psychology.

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